Threats can be a powerful part of any negotiator’s negotiation styles or negotiating techniques; however, threats are difficult to use correctly and can easily cause a great deal of damage. No matter what’s being negotiated, the other side will probably threaten you at some time. Have you seen a spy movie where the hero wins in the end because the bad guy tries to shoot him with a gun that really fires backwards?
When you are threatened, you need to take a close look at the threat and determine if the other side follows through on the threat if they would end up harming themselves as much as they would harm you. Sure the other side can threaten you, but do you really have the stronger position? Do you have a product or a service that they truly need and can’t get anywhere else? If so, their threats may be meaningless and you need to not budge.
If the other side of the table is threatening you during a negotiation, then it’s probably not the first time that they’ve used this negotiating tactic. That means that they’ve got a history. You need to do some research and check with people that have negotiated with them in the past – do they follow through on their threats? If not, then you may be able to disregard their threats.
One of the most effective ways to get a point across is to tell a story. We all know that threats can backfire and may have unintended consequences. If you take the time to tell the other side a story about threats going bad after they’ve made a threat, you may be able to get them to take the threat back.
Negotiations always seem to somehow include threats, either explicit or implied. The trick is not to try to avoid them, because you can’t, but rather to understand how to deal with them when they show up.
Skilled negotiators know that that every threat has the ability to blow up and harm both sides of the table. That’s why you have to take the time to determine who might be hurt and by how much. You also have to make sure that the other side is aware of the damage that the threat that they’ve made may cause.
During a negotiation, when you’ve been threatened, it’s not the end of the game – threats are almost part of the negotiation definition. As a negotiator, you need to learn to roll with the threat and evaluate what it really means to you. Once you understand the scope of the threat, you’ll be able to take the appropriate actions that will bring the other side of the table back to the negotiations and will get you once again moving towards reaching a deal.
When it comes to sitting around the negotiating table, we’re all equal, right? In a perfect world, the answer would be yes. We don’t live in a perfect world and so the answer is a very solid “no”. So what does this mean for us – do some negotiators deserve to get more?