Things to Say and Do When Negotiations Turn Sour

Things to Say and Do When Negotiations Turn Sour

By Mainak Biswas September 30, 2016 - 2,955 views

We have all been there before. We think the other party is about to agree to our terms and conditions, or that they are conceding that we have compromised to many of their demands, so they will agree on certain things. Yet, negotiations fail. More heartbreakingly, negotiations may turn hostile enough to leave you wondering what really went wrong when you tried every negotiation trick they taught you. Unfortunately, negotiations need not always work the way you want them to, and sometimes, they do go awfully wrong.

Walk out of talks with grace

When negotiations turn sour, there are a number of things you can do to extricate yourself gracefully. Negotiating requires skills, practice, patience and leaving one’s ego outside the negotiation room. One can’t be all high and mighty and expect to win an argument. Whether you are negotiating terms with your legal counsel, your employee, your hostile partner or a difficult client, negotiations can sometimes go wrong even if you are great at it.

However, most people make the mistake of lunging forward with various other tricks in order to win arguments. They forget that the first rule of negotiating is to not argue, and to be assertive. When negotiations turn sour, and you are still at it, trying to prove your point or trying to convince your opinion, do not go forward with whatever you are doing, even if you feel you are right.

Even if by all accounts the other side is acting irrationally, you sometimes just have to leave the negotiation table. It is no longer a negotiation if it has gone sour. It is like trying to put curdled milk together. It is a very bad idea. By walking out when negotiations turn sour, you will rise above your opponents and that is always a good thing.

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In this article, let us take a look at how we can walk out gracefully from a negotiation that has gone sour. These tips and tricks will apply to all kinds of negotiations and not just the kind that you see in boardrooms. These tips to leave a negotiation situation gracefully will work in your own house too, while working very well at a client’s meeting.

Here are four things to say to the other party:

  1. “I Can Imagine How You Feel”

When you say you can imagine how the other person is feeling, you are basically expressing empathy. When you express empathy, the other person feels understood and negotiations have lesser chances of getting uglier. Remember, the goal is not to make the negotiation process a success, but to walk out of it with grace. You do not want to leave the talks looking like a curmudgeon who left discussions because it didn’t suit him. Just expressing empathy goes a long way when it comes to helping you stall talks.

  1. “I Understand We Are Going Nowhere”

Do not beat around the bush. Instead, be frank and assertive, and most importantly be honest that talks are going nowhere. You will help save time on both sides, and if not anything, the other party will respect you for making it easy to quit talks. Probably they are not as assertive as you are, and two submissive groups rarely achieve anything, other than engaging in passive aggressiveness. We know what that leads to: pure and unadulterated unpleasantness.

  1. “Maybe We Can Call This Off”

Suggest to the negotiators that both the parties may be in a better position if they called off the talks. Tell them honestly that the negotiations are futile and it does not look like it is going anywhere. When you communicate your wish to end the talks, you can take steps that actually need to be taken to think of alternatives that might bring the results you want. Do not look for solutions where you can’t find them. A negotiation that has gone sour is one such place.

  1. “No Hard Feelings, Really”

Finally, wind up your negotiations by saying that there are no hard feelings between the two of you. Express the fact that one does not have to reach an agreement at the end of every negotiation. Negotiations can fail, and they are allowed to fail. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be called negotiations in the first place. If the talks are not helping, there are no hard feelings.

Here are four things to do when negotiations fail:

  1. Maintain your composure.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to lose patience and express anger or other unpleasant emotions. Emotions and feelings only come in the way of rational and objective talks, which is the crux of negotiations. If you lose your temper or if you express any sort of negative emotions, you will come across as a weak individual who is not able to deal with the fact that the talks have already failed. Keep calm and call off the talks.

  1. Back off. It doesn’t mean you are accepting defeat. It means you are protecting what you still have.

When you call off the talks, it does not mean that you failed at negotiations. It just means that you know when to draw a line and when to call it quits, instead of wasting everyone’s time. So, do not think that you are accepting defeat by calling off negotiations. You are just protecting what you still have and that is always a good thing to do. It reveals a basic sense of internal sense to accept adverse conditions and move away from adversities gracefully.

  1. Make peace with failed negotiations. It was just not meant to be.

Once you walk out of talks, you might feel despondent and mourn the loss of lost opportunities. Always remember that lost opportunities are always lost. They were never yours to begin with, and you did try to make them yours. Instead of wallowing in self pity and ruing over a failed negotiation, look at the brighter side: you will not have to deal with hostile negotiators again. You can do something better by actually seeking help for other alternatives.

  1. Consider what to do next.

Once you have mourned your losses, it is time to move ahead with life and with whatever started the negotiation process in the first place. This means, you should start looking for solutions that you actually want. If the negotiations failed, look at what else you can do. This could mean hiring a better lawyer, calling off the business deal or applying for divorce papers. There is always something to do at the end of a failed negotiation. Find out what you need to do, and take action before it’s late.

Deal with failed negotiations like an expert. Say the right things.

One of the most important qualities to be a good negotiator is empathy. Empathy helps you to o understand and feel what the other person is going through. This also helps you to assess your situation in a more realistic manner. When you express empathy and agree that you understand how they feel but don’t agree with what they want, even the sourest negotiation discussion can be ended in friendly terms, though the negotiation process itself is stalled. The next thing to do is to express the fact that the negotiations are not going anywhere.

By saying this, you are helping the other party understand that fruitless negotiations are a waste of time not only for you, but also for them. Finally, by calling the negotiations off, you will save valuable time and also save your image, instead of dragging the argument on a downward spiral. Finally, make sure that this is not personal. Express that you have no personal sense of animosity or disagreement, and that the disagreements are only about the terms and conditions of the negotiation process.

By making this impersonal, you give the respect and dignity the other party deserves, even if they are being very adamant and are responsible for negotiations turning sour.

What to do finally, when negotiations fail

Once you say these things, the next thing to do is to actually maintain your composure and calm all along. You should never lose your temper or be overwhelmed by emotions. This will make you act irrationally, thus bringing you down. When you know that the negotiations are not going anywhere, you just have to back off, instead of dragging the process. Moreover, you will protect the few advantages you still have, which is to not agree to terms that you disagree with.

Make peace with the fact that the negotiations have failed. You stand to gain when you admit that the negotiations have failed and that it was just not meant to be. Lastly, start thinking about what you need to do. This may include seeking legal help, professional advice, a meeting with other directors of your company, or if it is about personal matter, simply seek help from someone you trust with regards to how you feel and what you probably should do next. Certainly, walking out of a bad negotiation is better than dragging it around and falling from grace.

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