The Hardest Part of Any Negotiation


For some people negotiation is a loaded word that creates a lot of negative emotions. When you know that you are entering a negotiation, especially a structured one, you might feel nervous or anxious. Your hands start to sweat and your heart begins to beat faster and faster.

Probably that's because the outcome of the negotiation is uncertain, and to be honest ,that scares the shit out of you. At the same time, you might have a boss or an organization behind you who demands that you bring home the best deal possible so the pressure is there.

So how do we calm our nerves? And how do we enter a negotiation feeling confident and relaxed? One crucial point in order for us to achieve that is to know when we should walk away. To know when to walk away from the negotiation without a deal is probably the hardest part in any negotiation but a crucial one. I strongly believe that 90% (SWAG data) of the cases we could negotiate a deal, but we need to be open to the fact that that's not always the case. Sometimes it's better to walk away. But to walk away is often really, really hard.

Walking away from a negotiation could, and are sometimes used as a tactic to get the counterpart to bend. They say that the current offer is impossible for them, so they start to pack up their things so that their counterpart thinks that they will leave, and therefore they will loose the deal. An easy trick, but more common than you think.

Make sure you identify it, and call it out!

To help us know when to walk away, we can look at a core concept within Negotiation which is BATNA - or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement. This is like Negotiation 101, fundamentals, but important.

It's exactly what it sound like: If we don't get a deal now, what is our best alternative? The value of your best alternative should be your walk away point. Easy to establish.

A strong BATNA could be if you have another job offer when you are entering a salary negotiation with your current employer.

A Weak BATNA could be if you are a supplier who is depended on this deal, otherwise you will loose your client and probably go bankrupt.

Identifying and knowing your BATNA is important and often easy information to establish. However what probably will be a gamechanger for the negotiation is if you are able to find out your counterparts BATNA. The reason why it could be a gamechanger is because You will know IF a deal is possible, and HOW Valuable that deal could be.

You will also know if it's even worth to pursuing the deal. What if your counterparts BATNA, would be impossible for you to meet? Well, then it's time to do the hardest thing you could do in a negotiation, you stand up, take on your jacket and walk out. You owe it to yourself to let it go, and pursue other things.

Usually what I do with my clients when it comes to BATNA is to identify and teach the ways to improve our BATNA while also Weaken our counterparts BATNA, to put us in as strong position as possible.

So to summarize what have we learned? There are 3 key lessons I want you to take away

  • Know your BATNA - And once you know it - Improve it
  • Try to identify your Counterparts BATNA - And once you have - Weaken it
  • Don't be afraid to walk away if you have other options which are more attractive - you owe it to yourself.

As always, don't forget to Bring it home!