How to Avoid a Negotiation Stalemate

negotiation stalemateNegotiation is an essential element of almost any business, yet few flourish in its practice. Successful negotiating can be the difference between a lucrative, thriving enterprise or shuttering your doors for good. Practicing a delicate balance of skill and art, tactful negotiators employ various strategies to get their desired outcome, but things don’t always go to plan. Stalemates happen, and when they do, it is important to know how to overcome them.

Here are a few techniques from our experts to break your negotiation out of a stalemate:

  • Reframe the conversation.

Negotiations about negative topics, such as labor expenses, are almost always harder than negotiations about positive topics, like employment benefits. Negative negotiations are much more likely to stalemate than positive ones, so when negotiating, think of how you can reframe the conversation to focus on the positives. A great way to visualize this is to think of how the opposition would present the negotiation outcome that you desire to their stakeholders. What positive things would they say? List out these things, and then build your arguments from there.

  • Take a break.

This one may sound too easy, but it is one of the most effective ways to break a stalemate. Taking a break allows you some much-needed rest and also gives you time to think about things from a different perspective, do some research, or consult with an outside source for more information. You’ll have the chance to make new connections and, if needed, replan your strategy in a way that is difficult to do when under the pressure of a face-to-face meeting.

  • Think ahead.

When people equate negotiations to chess games, they’re not kidding. One of the key skills in playing chess is thinking many steps ahead, planning for moves in the future by making strategic moves now. Adept negotiators also think many steps ahead. When thinking ahead, you may see angles of a negotiation that aren’t obvious when just considering the step at hand. When stuck in a stalemate, try to think ahead 3-4 steps and anticipate the other party’s needs at that point. Use this knowledge to pull them back into the conversation.

  • Use a different currency.

While cash is king, it is not always the best currency to use in a negotiation. If you reach a stalemate on the cash price, consider what else you may have of value to the opposition. For example, if a new car at Dealership A costs $39,500 and the same car at Dealership B costs $40,000 but comes with free oil changes for as long as you own it, which is the better deal? As long as you plan to keep the car over two years, Dealership B is likely the better deal. Even though the oil changes are not a cash discount, you will need them over the life of your car, so they will have a value to you that is equivalent to what you would spend on those same oil changes elsewhere. Using the oil changes as currency locks in the deal for Dealership B, even at a higher overall vehicle price.

  • Make a small concession.

Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting a great deal, right? Conceding on an item that is of value to both you and the other party is a great way to show you are willing to collaborate and could be the catalyst needed to break out of a stalemate. When negotiations seem to reach an impasse, pull from a list of possible concessions that you thought out before beginning negotiations. Trying to think of concessions on the fly could lead to you inadvertently giving up something you want, bringing down the total value of the deal from your perspective.

  • Don’t let communication end.

If your meeting doesn’t end in complete resolution, then it should at a minimum end with a follow-up meeting scheduled. Don’t allow communication to fall off, or negotiations may never resume. Even with a follow-up meeting scheduled, make contact once or twice in between now and then to ensure everyone is made aware of any new issues that arise. Frequent communication allows both parties to properly prepare and rethink strategies, if necessary, for upcoming meetings.

Representing buyers and sellers spanning over 40 industries, the experts here at Tampa Business Brokers have you covered. Call us at (813) 981-7828 to discuss your business negotiations needs and discover why we have a reputation for unrivaled excellent service in the Tampa Bay area.