5 steps for overcoming stalled negotiations

Stalled negotiations are frustrating for both parties involved. The person you’re trying to close a deal with isn’t budging, and you’re getting tired of it. But what if there was a way to get around this? Overcoming a negotiation that just isn’t going anywhere is easy with a few simple steps. 

1. Get Rid of the Hostility 

It’s easier to catch bees with honey than vinegar, and if there is any hostility on the table, your negotiation is going nowhere (except the trash). If awkward silence is prevailing, try making an (appropriate) joke in order to cut the tension. You can also try offering a small token or change to the negotiation if you really feel like it’s going nowhere. While you might not get everything you want, giving a little to get a lot in return can prove to be very beneficial in these situations. 

2. Communication Problems 

Practice good listening techniques. This means to sit still, close your mouth, make eye contact, and truly listen to what the other person is saying. Too often we listen only to respond and not to actually hear what the other person is trying to say. Open-ended questions on your part can also help to bring out any miscommunication or confusion. Getting to the bottom of why the other party is upset or the negotiation simply isn’t going anywhere can only be done when both individuals or groups are clear on the issue that is causing the roadblock. 

It’s also important to uncover hidden agendas that can hinder negotiations.

3. Salami Tactic 

If the problem is so large it seems like it cannot be addressed due to sheer volume, it can be helpful to break it down into pieces and then resolve each piece one by one (commonly called the Salami tactic). There can’t be forward movement if both parties are confused about what the real issue is, or the issue is so large it can’t be truly understood. 

4. Find Commonality in Stalled Negotiations

This helps both parties in stalled negotiations because they are better able to understand each other and the issue as a whole. During an argument, people focus almost entirely on their differences instead of on what makes them similar.

By empathizing with the other person or group, and showing you understand where they are coming from (while also associating how your end of the deal is pertinent to them), you can move past the issue holding you back.

For example, if the price of a service is what is causing the holdup it may be a good idea to break the price down and show how it will benefit both them and you in order to find common ground. 

5. Finding Alternatives 

Sometimes things just aren’t going anywhere and there is no way around it. You’ve tried everything listed here (and more) and they just won’t budge.

Consider a toddler, they don’t like being told what to do or only given one option. If you provide multiple options, they are more willing to listen and comply when they are able to choose the final outcome. However, this final outcome will always benefit you (red pajamas or blue pajamas?) either way, they’re still in pajamas! Finding an alternative and giving your counterpart multiple options is a great way to move past a negotiation that has reached an impasse.

Going into a negotiation with at least two options (or stepping away to come up with another option or two) is a smart move to ensure that you don’t spend time talking to a brick wall. 

How to overcome stalled negotiations

Overcoming a stalled negotiation is possible with these steps and a little creativity. Minimizing conflict, moving past it, providing various options, and listening are all crucial in order to avoid a situation that is going to hurt both parties if the stubborn one decides to walk away. Always aim for a win-win situation in negotiations.

If you have reached a fork in the road and are worried that your counterpart may decide to simply walk away from the deal, try some of these out and think things through prior to walking into that meeting or jumping on the phone call. 

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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