Tactical Negotiation Techniques

An interesting post at NYT Who’s the Boss? blog highlighted a negotiation technique that AGi found interesting for cutting to the core of a negotiation:

The idea is simple: When counter parties express grief over a perceived shortcoming of yours, ask point-blank whether the issue will make it impossible to work out a deal.

Strip-lining calls their bluff by providing them with an opportunity to kill the conversation right then and there. Often, the prospect will concede that this is not a make-or-break issue, allowing the concern to be dropped and the conversation to move forward. If the issue is make-or-break, it clarifies their priorities and allows you to decide if you want to seek a solution or move on.

A commenter expresses a similar technique has been helpful for them:

I work in advertising at an agency and have used a similar tactic many times with clients. If I’m pitching creative, which means showing a client mock ups of potential ads we’ve made, and I’m really getting beat up, I’ll offer to kill the whole ad right there and go back to the drawing board. Almost every time the client will resist and switch their position to arguing for the ad rather than trashing it. At this point we can usually agree on a couple small tweaks and then get it approved. I never thought of this as strip lining but it is quite similar.

Clearly not of use or even appropriate in every scenario, but perhaps helpful when communications appear to have stalled.

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