Negotiating Situations That Feel Hopeless

Some discussions seem so doomed from the outset that you might feel like you should save yourself the trouble and find a nice convent to join instead. In an interview with Forbes India, author Deepak Malhotra explains how you can negotiate through these hopeless times.

A New Hope

He says that at their heart, all kinds of negotiation are just human interactions where two or more groups want to reach an agreement. Haggling and debating are only small parts of negotiation, if they are part of the process at all. The difference is that haggling is a zero-sum game; negotiation is not. To have a chance of success, go into negotiation with a process strategy, which is a strategy that considers how long you expect the negotiation to last and how many people’s buy-in will be required to legitimize the final agreement. Malhotra gives the example that it would be bad to play your best and last bargaining chip at the end of a long negotiation, only to discover that the person with whom you have been negotiating has a boss of his or her own who now needs to consider the agreement.

One more important point he makes has to do with empathy. In negotiation, empathy is not just the thing you use to be nice. It is the thing that lets you best understand the other player or players’ motivations and perspective, which is the precise knowledge you need to have in order to reach an agreement. Malhotra notes with amusement that the most challenging or vile people with whom you negotiate are the people who will require your empathy the most, since their perspective is likely the most alien from your own.

You can view the full interview here:

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