Do You Negotiate Better Than The U.S. Congress

In observing the manner in which the U.S. Congress is wriggling (negotiating) over how to reform healthcare in the United States and the impediments encountered, the question came to mind, when you negotiate, how do you handle impasses?

The U.S. Congress has many moving pieces, with many stakeholders to appease, in its attempt to reform healthcare in the U.S. That makes the task more daunting. Depending upon that for which you negotiate, you may experience the same level of angst.

Below are five negotiation strategies and tactics you can use to address impasses during negotiations.

  1. Have two negotiators on your team, each taking on distinctive roles.
    1. One plays the role of ‘good cop’ (seeks ways to appease the opposing negotiator). The other negotiator plays the role of ‘bad cop’ (Is combative with the opposing negotiator and displays a level of ambivalence that’s disheartening (This person is used to wear down the opposing negotiator.))
  2. Explore the other negotiator’s pressure points.
    1. In any negotiation, there are ‘points’ upon which you can exert pressure. They will manifest themselves as leverage, in the form of ‘positional power (power you possess as the result of having something of value that the other negotiator needs and/or wants very badly (when a person needs a heart transplant, the surgeon with the skills to perform the operation has ‘positional power’ in that situation)).
  3. Don’t assume what worked in prior negotiations will work the same way in current negotiations.
    1. Address each negotiation as a separate entity. Do your homework to uncover ways you can exploit your presence in each situation. Gather background information on the other negotiator to determine what it takes to move her past impasses, before reaching the negotiation table. Then, when impasses occur be prepared to utilize the information you’ve gathered to motivate the other negotiator to move in your direction.
  4. Separate components of an impasse and explore solutions to each component separately.
    1. Build consensus on mutual points. Seek ways to get the other negotiator to commit more of his time to the process. The more time he commits, subliminally, the more likely he’ll stay engaged to the conclusion of the negotiation process. In addition, at a point, he’ll start to wear down.
  5. Knowing you’re likely to incur impasses in the negotiation, explore ways that you can ‘stack the deck’.  
    1. Create demands that you can inject into the negotiation for the express purpose of succumbing to demands of the other negotiator, in exchange for concessions you wish him to make.

Regardless of how you address impasses, always seek ways to get around them and build consensuses. By building consensus, you’ll keep the negotiation moving forward and increase the chances of reaching a successful conclusion … and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are …

  • When negotiating, people fear losing that which they cherish the most. As such, you can stroke that cord, but strum it gently to gain leverage in a negotiation. If you stroke too hard, you run the risk of breaking it and alienating the other negotiator.
  • When making demands during a negotiation, position your offerings such that they appear to exact a real value. In so doing, they’ll be perceived as being ‘real’.
  • Always leave an ‘open door’ through which the other negotiator can retreat to ‘save face’ and find sanctuary. If you lock him into a position so tightly that he can’t ‘pay the toll’ or ‘save face’, you could be locking yourself out of a successful negotiation outcome.
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