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In spite of all your efforts to plan your negotiations well, you’ll occasionally run into difficulties. The number of potential difficulties is legion, but the most common ones fall into two categories, difficult people and difficult situations.

Again, the range of possibilities is wide, but if we look at a few examples, some general principles will emerge in each case.

1 Dealing with difficult people.

1. People may be difficult for several reasons. They may have unresolved issues in their personal life that affect their attitudes and commitment to the negotiation. They may lack empathy and make insensitive or inappropriate remarks, or they may simply be unskilled in negotiating and make mistakes. Whatever the cause, try not to over-react and make the situation worse.

There are two possible ways of behaving when working with others.

When someone asks us for help, the natural tendency of most people is to try to offer a solution. We generally produce one of the three kinds of behavior:

a) we advise people to what to do

b) we tell them

c) we offer to do something for them under certain conditions

This approach is called:

· ‘Solution-centered behavior – it focuses principally on finding an answer through consulting and reflecting. The key message is to consult about facts and reflect about feelings.

The alternative approach is to use

· ‘Problem-centered behavior’- which means questioning the other person about how he or she understands the problem. The key to this approach is that it obliges you to ask questions, which is always a good idea if you have to deal with difficult people as it enables you to control the conversation – if you ask a question people will usually answer it. This approach avoids confrontation and it may get you valuable information about the person or the negotiation.

Remember the guidelines.

 When in doubt go asking questions and consult and reflect.

 Ask good, useful and open questions, plan them carefully

 Ask for the other party’s proposals or ideas – don’t give yours first.

 Ask for clarification of the other party’s proposals rather than saying what is wrong with them.

 Ask about their goals and objectives rather than telling them about yours.

 Ask how you can help them.



2.Negotiating with powerful people.

What do you think is the best way to negotiate with someone who has a stronger bargaining position than you? Or with someone who is bigger and richer than yourself? Tick the strategies which you would choose. Then discuss your choices with the rest of the group.

1) Threaten them.

2) Let them see that you are in a weak position.

3) Refer to fair standards and fair procedures.

4) Have a good alternative plan in case you can’t get them to agree.

5) Offer them something that they want or need.

6) Find examples of similar cases where people in your position have won.

7) Get support from another party (such as a mediator or consultant)


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