10 Negotiation tactics explained

10 Negotiation tactics explained

Top 10x

  • Beware ranges –
  • The Columbo
  • Time outs –
  • First 5 min/last 5 min
  • A Summary or false summary –
  • Words –
  • Don’t build expectation –
  • Placing the stake –
  • Oxo cube to tea chest
  • Conditional giving

Beware 1Beware ranges –

Ranges are interpreted by each party in the negotiation; according to their desires!

If I say to my wife “I will return home between 7pm and 8:30pm” – because my wife wants to see me soon – she hears 7pm – because I don’t want to make her worry, but know that she would like me to come home soon I say 7pm but I probably know it will be nearer to 8:30pm when I return.

In business I might say “The return when you sell this product is between 10 and 25% “The retailer hears 25% as that would be FANTASTIC – the reality I know will be nearer to 10%

Each party hears what they want – you can use this to your advantage or it could be a dangerous error


columboColumbo –

The most dangerous stage of a negotiation is at the point when the deal appears to be complete, this is the point when the pleasure centers in our brain can be stimulated – “we’ve done it, it was hard work but we have done it!” This completion stimulates release of endorphins and dopamine, the naturally occurring opiate receptor sites in the brain and we feel exhilarated. At his point we are vulnerable, we feel happy and receptive to suggestions – this is the time for World Class Negotiators to try ‘The Columbo’ named after the US TV detective [Link] who would get to the end of the show and seem as if he had completely missed the clue the audience has seen – only – at the last minute to declare – “you are the murderer” and solve the case…

I have a friend who said to me “I never buy a suit without getting a shirt free of charge!” – I went to watch the process – he got measured for a nice suit, and then agreed to buy the suit, the salesman looked delighted, it was an expensive suit, the salesman would have a nice commission payment on the sale… as he processed the sale and wrapped the suit very carefully, my friend sensed the right moment to say… “of course I wouldn’t buy a suit like this without getting a shirt FREE…” the salesman paused mid-action – he looked at my friend – my friend stared right back – the salesman buckled and said “what size collar?” and proceeded to point out the shirts my friend could select from….

It is the euphoria at the completion and the fear of the potential loss of the sale which makes both parties vulnerable. In a business negotiation it might be the request for sponsorship, or entertainment or a free sample – but do not get suckered, what might you ask for in return – the ONLY defense is to be prepared.

Time outs

When something comes up which I was not expecting, the first thing I need to ask is “What happened to my intel?” the next thought is can I deal with this or should I ask for a quick time out to ensure I understand the value of the request or the suggestion. This is a totally professional action to take and one often overlooked by negotiators. I have also used this when I have made a proposal which has taken the other party by surprise. It gives them a little time to think or raises the pressure on them to reciprocate. It doesn’t need to be long – it could be a simple washroom/comfort break, or it could be a complete suspension and a rescheduling of another meeting. [don’t forget that you can take all items offered off the table. You don’t have to simply pick up where you left off although often this is done.

first 5First 5 min/last 5 min

We have prepared for weeks… we have thought it all through… we know what we can spend… so “LET’s DO THIS…”

Think about when you go on holiday – you have your money you have free time ahead, you check your luggage in at the airport, you negotiate the slow, tedious, security check queues, the wait is now over – you are through security and on your way – you are finally on HOLIDAY… what is the first thing you encounter – DUTY FREE and you have cash to spend – so that is what you do.

As you return home from a wonderful holiday, you begin to think about normal life again, you are being collected from the airport by your Dad, but you have not bought him a present… what is the last thing you see before you come out to the meet and greet area… DUTY FREE again – a chance to buy that last minute gift.

At the end of a negotiation as the allotted time draws to a close and you see the chance of finalising the deal begin to drift away it is possible to panic, you don’t want to go back to the office without a deal, therefore you throw money at the deal to make it happen. [the last 5 minutes]

How many times in a football game does a team score – in the first 5 minutes – when the other team have not yet concentrating [still on the bus] or conversely as soon as one team scores, the other scores almost straight away – or similarly in the last five minutes one team scores the decisive goal – last five minutes [concentration is everything!]

summarySummary/false summary –

Here one party takes the opportunity to summarise all that has been agreed so far – in a false summary one party may add in items or miss out items either deliberately or by mistake – your job is to concentrate and ensure nothing is added or missed out.

WordsWords –

All communication involves Encoding and Decoding.

If you talk or move – you are the ENCODER – you send info to be interpreted

If you hear or see you are a DECODER – The decoder interprets the signals according to THEIR OWN parameters – Words are all about how what is said is ‘decoded’

For example, “Yes” vs “I hear you” –

decoding – “Yes” = I agree vs “I hear you” = I have heard what you said

“I would not normally do this deal” – decoded as “Today I will do this deal”

“Our normal price is $10” – decoded as “I will do a special price of LESS than $10”

expectationsDon’t build expectation –

Be careful that what you say is not interpreted as a thing you can – or may be willing to do.

If they are talking about a delivery on a Sunday and you do not deliver on a Sunday – avoid saying “yep, yep, yep” or “mmh mmh” “ah-ha” – don’t nod your head – these are all decoded as Tacit agreement

Slide6Placing the stake –

This is the 5xE presentation which is put out in the negotiation arena – the narrative which supports your argument – it must be compelling, address the needs of the other party and be delivered with credibility and conviction.



little boxOxo cube to tea chest

This is when an idea or object is positioned to the other party as being of high value [big box, Tea Chest] – but the other party attempts to diminish the value [small box, Oxo Cube]

If I bought my wife some flowers and presented them to her from a kneeling position whilst smiling up at her… she takes them from me… looks down at me and blows her cheeks out in a massive sigh and then places, or throws the flowers into the bin and walks off… I present the flowers as a ‘big box Tea chest – of value’ – she shows me that to her they have NO value ‘small box – Oxo cube’

In business

Seller – “I can get delivery by Friday this week” [Tea chest – big box]

Buyer – “Your competitor can have it here tomorrow…” [Oxo Cube – small box] attempting to or actually diminishes the value of your gift!

conditionalConditional Giving


Ensure that on every occasion it is very clear what YOU want from the other party BEFORE you explain what you will give

If you let me use your pen… Then I will make you a cup of tea

If you give me an order now for $1,000

Then I will ensure delivery on Monday morning.

And always remember…

There is always…

More Than One Answer