To what degree do you seek creative solutions when involved in hard-nosed negotiations? Such negotiations can be extremely demanding and fraught with stress. When coupled with someone that’s a hard-type negotiator (i.e. a negotiator that either has a zero-sum perspective of the negotiation or someone that thrives on being obstinate in a negotiation), you can find yourself making unplanned concessions if you’re not mindful of what you’re doing.
One way to employ a creative solution when involved in a hard negotiation is to use the ‘even-if’ strategy. It can quicken the pace on the path to a successful negotiation outcome. While it can be a viable ploy for you, you need to also be watchful of it being used against you.
What is the ‘even-if’ strategy:
Stated succinctly, the even-if strategy allows its user to stealthily subordinate the other negotiator’s proposition to his. The strategy avoids potential conflicts that might occur if the other negotiator’s point was addressed prior to addressing yours. Thus, using this strategy successfully, allows you to put your point into the forefront of the discussion and it alters the flow of the negotiation.
How to use ‘even-if’:
The strategy can be used to make your point prior to addressing the other negotiator’s perspective. It’s done in the hopes that your point will dilute or alter his thought process. To use the strategy, you can say something akin to, “even if we could save $10 million by accepting your offer, at this time, we do not have that much money to invest. I suggest we look at a solution that may be closer to the $5 million threshold.” By doing this, as stated above, you’ve repositioned yourself and his offer by utilizing this strategy in this manner.
Best time to employ ‘even-if’:
Anytime you wish to subordinate the opposing negotiator’s point or request to yours, is a good time to employ this strategy. While this strategy can be used at any point in any negotiation, it’s even more powerful when used with someone that’s aggressive or someone that attempts to bully you. In that case, the strategy calms the bully. You’re not stating that he’s crazy or irrational for making such an outlandish request, you’re first acknowledging him from a respectful aspect and simply stating that you can’t meet his offer. In so doing, you potentially side-step any aggressive behavior that might stem from his otherwise abusive demeanor.
How to defend from ‘even-if’:
Since this strategy is used to put one proposition on the table for discussion ahead of another, you should be mindful of when the other negotiator attempts to use this strategy against you. The way to defend against it is to simply state, ‘Okay, let’s discuss your point next.’ You can use the tonality of your voice to position this as a request or a statement. Then, go right into the point that you wanted to discuss. A smart negotiator may not let you get away with your attempt to place your agenda ahead of his. Thus, you must be prepared to decide if you’ll acquiesce on one point to receive a concession on your request later. Therein lies another way you can use this strategy. If you get into a give-and-take as to whose point will be discussed first, you can present a point that’s nothing more than a red herring to be sacrificed for this purpose.
Even if (wink) you never use this strategy, knowing about it will make you a better negotiator… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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