Top Ten Tips on...

Negotiation Tactics

5 December 2022
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
These 10 tactics are those most commonly used by many negotiators - so knowing about them may help you resist them...

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unhelpful deadlines

it's quite a common technique to be told that if you don't close the deal today, then the price will go up or somebody else will come along and take this because they've got a booking on it for tomorrow. They're simply using time as a variable and attempting to squeeze you into an agreement by making the deadline more imminent. The response is to quite simply say, “I'll come back tomorrow.” Resist.


limited option

so - you can have it at this price, but if you have it in green. And you don't want it in green, which you don’t particularly want. Again, they are pressuring you to accept something they probably want to offload. So this is your opportunity to trade; if you are prepared to accept the colour, then get something from them in return – for example, a discount, or a particular accessory.



simply unless you take the deal as offered, the situation will worsen, the offer won’t be as good. This could be a deadline, as mentioned earlier, but it could be a price increase, or ‘this is that one in the shop’…. It sounds as if is a threat, so again, resist.



the other party will give you something that seems like a gift or a favour or do something that's generous in the hope that it places you under a psychological obligation to offer something back in return. It's apparently a gift because it comes at no additional price. It's not part of a changing contract. So it's a freebie and we all like freebies. We like getting something for nothing but psychologically for some of us, we feel we have to reciprocate by offering something back in turn. If nothing else, it might simply make us more favorably disposed to the other party. Firstly, remember such a ‘freebie’ is not free…it’s an enticement – it’s a form of pressure. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. And remember the value of the freebie is tiny compared to the overall cost of what it is you want. And the best response to reciprocity is to resist it. That's their choice to offer you something for nothing. It shows that they really are keen on, on you closing a deal with them. Do not feel obligated to respond in a similar fashion. If they're offering it as a gift and you eventually seal the deal, then just take it as a gift. You don't have to offer anything back in return.


the sizzle

some people will dress up the offer by making particular features particularly attractive. The best example is selling a house. Have fresh coffee or fresh bread, coming out of the kitchen as a smell or fresh flowers in the key rooms. So be aware of small and simple factors which make a psychological impact, which has a really powerful, emotional appeal. Where the single variable is a hook which dominates the offer.


salami negotiation

in a negotiation, there'll be a number of variables to be considered. And you've got two basic choices in negotiation as a strategist. The first one is you can put all the variables on the table and that allows you to cross trade one variable with another; or you can go for salami negotiation, where you look at each variable on its own and come to a decision on each variable, separately. In effect, salami negotiation is haggling over each variable, rather than looking at all the variables at once.


the halo effect

this is really another way of describing the sizzle and the steak. The halo effect is where the other party emphasizes one variable which they know or think has special emotional appeal to you. They know you are particularly keen on. In a recent example, the vendor of a house realized that a young couple might be very interested in a safe and large garden for their young children – so they showed the couple the garden first, which they loved, and became the key deciding factor in purchasing the house. So beware any negotiation in which the other party asks you for what’s most important – because they may create, build or offer something that resonates with your preference, acting as a halo effect. Remember that such a gesture (for that is what it is) is a relatively cheap way of getting your buy-in to the main event. If you have said price is important, then the other party could offer you a significant sounding discount (say 15%) which sounds a lot, sounds attractive, but may be only a fraction of the cost of the car or house or holiday.



yes, we’ll sort that out for you”. “We can do something about that”. “That won’t be a problem.” All these are vague offers of an unspecified solution. So don’t be seduced by this. Get the detail. What specifically do they mean?


false assumptions

this is more about you than the other party. You assume something because that's what you've always assumed or that that would, in your head, be standard practice. But unless you've clarified and confirmed it, it may not be what the other party assumes, and may not be standard practice to the other person. Don't assume the other party will make the same assumptions as you.

A friend of mine installs double glazing, and fitted a whole bungalow for an elderly woman.  He was there for almost a fortnight, and she always made him a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits morning and afternoon, and did some sandwiches around lunchtime.  And she allowed him to use the in-house toilet. When he came to settle and pass the bill on to the lady, she gave him her involce for refreshments and for use of toilet amenities.  He had thought the offer of biscuits and tea and toilet facilities was a freebie. That was his assumption. That was his standard practice.  Actually he learned a very valuable lesson - it's a very good example of not taking everything for granted.

straw issues

this is quite a strong and powerful technique, quite manipulative, and quite difficult to spot; a straw issue is something that the other party puts into the negotiation as a variable, which is unimportant to them, which they hope to cross trade – or even concede – in the hope of getting an important trade or concession from you. So for example they may have ten variables on the table of which three are straw issues. They're quite happy to let these go, to give them up, in order to extract a meaningful variable from you, one that you would quite like to hang on to. It's difficult to say what might be a straw issue because that's only known to the other party, So it's difficult because if it feels real and relevant for you, then. Understandably you're likely to cross trade and offer something in return. I think my attitude to this is because straw issues are so difficult to detect from the other party, you have to just be very kind to yourself. If they are offering something that could be a straw issue, but it is valuable to you then in a sense, it's not really a straw issue, is it, because you would have been prepared to pay for that. Another way of thinking whether or not an issue is a straw issue from the other party is to consider what other parties that you work with would do. If another party with whom you have a similar contract gives that variable away for free, and this particular party is offering to trade it. The chances are it might be a straw issue.

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Related courses & resources...

Top Ten Tips on...

What we mean by 'negotiation'; the negotiation matrix to help you prepare, and the key skills to help you deliver.

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