Break the deadlock in negotiations | by Andrew Hillman

Deadlock in negotiations or impasse in negotiations is usually as a result of an issue or condition that neither side seems to be able to agree on - it can bring the entire negotiation to a grinding halt.

What can you do as a negotiator when you find yourself faced with a deadlocked negotiation?

Here are six techniques that can be used when dealing with deadlocked negotiations:

1. Take a break: Taking break, whether short or extended, can be one of the most powerful ways to break a negotiation block. A few hours break may be all that is needed to recharge batteries and see a new angle with which to address the impasse.

2.Change the setting: The negotiators may have been negotiating in the same room for many hours. Changing the setting may give both sides the feeling that a new round of negotiations has started. Old assumptions may be put aside and a fresh perspective may be just what is needed to get the negotiations back on track.

3. Change the negotiator:  The negotiation may have run into a deadlock,` because one or more of the negotiators who is involved in the discussions just can’t find a different way to look at the situation. Switching out the negotiator may be what is needed to move the discussions forward.

4. Change Negotiation Levels: Often the deadlock is as a result of the negotiators not having the authority to suggest alternatives. Bringing in more senior negotiators, who have the authority to bend, will help get the process back on track again.

5.Increase Transparency: Each side has its own reason for not willing to move on the deadlock issue based on the information that they may currently have. Sometimes, being more transparent with the information which you have and laying this out on the table may result in change. The other side may learn something they didn’t know before which may be just what is needed to get the negotiations on track again.

6.Say “Let’s go for a Win-Win”: This is a great way to communicate to the other side that you wish to find a workable solution that benefits both sides. This may create the needed spark for the other side to find ways to work around the deadlock

Should you have exhausted all of your avenues and you still feel that you are unable to reach an agreement, then quitting allows both parties to go away and re-evaluate their positions. The side that suggests the termination or adjournment may retain the higher ground with reference to any future renewal in negotiations. If the deal is important enough, both sides will probably return with some new ideas. If you have achieved what you originally wanted from the negotiation, then don’t make the mistake of continuing to negotiate. View negotiations like climbing a mountain, once you have reached the summit the only way is down, so leave as quickly and as courteously as possible.

Andrew Hillman is Managing Director of Bespoke - 
Posted on February 03, 2014

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