Breaking deadlock in negotiations

In negotiations deadlock happens more often than you might think – you fundamentally disagree with the other party on some point or other, talks are going round in circles (at best), time is running out and tempers are getting frayed. Perhaps we have all been there, but how do we escape? It’s not easy, and you might have to sacrifice a “principle” or two, or at least look at things in a different light. Rarely though does deadlock lead to disaster and here are some thoughts about what you can do to try to break it and get negotiations back on track:

  • Take a break – have a bath (remember Archimedes) and try again tomorrow
  • Move the place – find a room with a view
  • Move the deadline – will you really be dead if you don’t meet the date?
  • Escalate – your boss just might find a way out
  • Change the negotiators – replacing the egos can work wonders
  • Go “off the record” – a coffee shop may help
  • Create some more options – however crazy they might seem at first

And, if you are really so far apart that you will never reach agreement then call it a day and go for your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), which of course you carefully prepared before you entered into negotiations!