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50 Practical Negotiation Tactics

50 Practical Negotiation Tactics

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Published by: zambroata on Apr 18, 2011
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Analyzing a situation and applying pressure in order to achieve your goals when

you have leverage over the other party is a commonly used tactic in negotiations.

It is sometimes referred to as “pressure bargaining.”

Example 1

We have all been at the mercy of someone who uses pressure bargaining. Try

bargaining with a plumber! This homeowner, not blessed with many household

repair skills, once had to call a plumber in for emergency repairs. Since his toilet

had overflowed and water was continuing to run all over the floor, the guy was in

no position to dicker over the price of the repair. The same kind of thing happened

a couple of years before that: In the middle of August, his air-conditioning unit

went out. He was at the mercy of the company that could install an appropriate

unit the fastest, and was forced to pay whatever they demanded.

On the other hand, there were times when there was no pressure and no

emergency. Since the heating and air conditioning company held no leverage over

him, he was able to successfully bargain for other services. Many companies sell

“tune ups” and routine seasonal checks to keep their people busy all year. They are

more flexible on price and service when they know the consumer is not under any

pressure to buy the service being offered.

Example 2

Let’s face it: Sometimes one party holds all the cards. It’s easy to prediet the out-

come in collective bargaining talks if one side is clearly in a very favorable posi-

tion, while the other is not—that is, when one side has “leverage” over the other.

Unions can strike at any time to achieve their goals if they have some leverage,

such as the advantage of time. If the employer is a shipping and express mail com-

pany, for example, its union has the advantage in the weeks just before Christmas,

because this is the busiest time for that industry. The owners of professional sports


50 Practical Negotiation Tactics

teams are generally more vulnerable to pressure from the players’ union several

days before the season begins, but they are less willing to negotiate several months

ahead. (Team owners are notoriously unpredictable, however.)

The leverage of supply is also very powerful: If a jeweler has an exclusive

contract to sell a ring everyone wants, she has leverage and can more likely hold

firm on her price. If you have a special skill that an employer needs and few others

have that skill, then you are in a position where you can set reasonable demands

on wages, benefits, etc. On the other hand, if the unemployment rate is high and

jobs are few, the employer has the advantage: a supply of jobs. This gives it the

upper hand in negotiating with employees, either individually or through collec-

tive bargaining.

Many labor contracts were agreed to when unemployment and inflation were

high and employees felt pressured to accept the demands of the employer. When

the employer proposed adding duties to the job classifications, he didn’t have

to be flexible because the employees believed that they had no alternatives. The

employees had no power to resist the demands of the employer. When one side

places undue pressure on the other side, there are likely to be long-term repercus-

sions. Employers who refuse to give in on issues of high importance to employees

and exert pressure on unions to accept their terms, despite strong resistance, can

suffer repercussions in the form of sabotage, low employee motivation, and other

undesired outcomes. Other employers find themselves in situations that actually

reverse the leverage (when, for example, unemployment is low and jobs are plen-

tiful, it is the union’s turn to hold firm on its demand). What goes around comes



“Pressure bargaining” is a way to achieve objectives that are greater than what is

deserved or desired by the other side. A note of caution: Circumstances in one

round of negotiations might give one side an advantage, but before you choose

such a tactic, consider whether or not the two parties will likely meet again in the

future to negotiate. If so, will what goes around come around?

Applying Pressure


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