Improve Negotiation Skills by Uncovering Tactics

There are lots of areas of importance in a negotiation. This article will focus on uncovering tactics and redirecting the negotiations back to a mutuality-based, win-win process.

A Tactic, by definition here, differs from a strategy. A tactic is intentional and, it is meant to get you to give up a concession without the other party giving anything in return.

This article is not written to encourage you to use tactics but instead to know when tactics are used against you. We want you to be able to neutralize tactics to preserve a win-win negotiating relationship.

Here are the three areas to consider for uncovering and neutralizing tactics:

Is it a Tactic?:

1)     A “strategy” used by the other party may be a tactic or it may simply be the way they do business. Let’s use “Higher Authority” as the tactic example. You move through a negotiations process with someone, thinking that person will make the deal with you. Then, when you have wrapped up the trading, they tell you that they do not have the authority to make the deal; they need to pass the information up through channels. Is this a tactic? It may be an attempt to put pressure on you and get you to change your offer.


But, it may not be a tactic. I know of a large energy company who runs negotiations this way; they have a two-step process by design. The negotiators who initially go out tell the company they are negotiating with about the process. They are the first line but do not have budgetary authority to make the size deals done at this level. They then bring all of the information to the next level of management for approval. Not a tactic; just the way they do business

Uncovering a Tactic:

2)     If you suspect that a tactic is being used against you, the best strategy to ascertain I fit is or isn’t is to ask questions. It is usually that simple. You probe. Let’s say the other party sets a deadline. How can you know I fit is a tactic or not. Test the deadline. Ask questions about it. Who set it? Why that time and date? What happens if the deadline is not met? Get conversational. Use objective criteria – the facts.

Redirecting The Negotiations:

3)     Lastly, when you learn that the other has truly been using a tactic against you (never with you), you need to tell the other party what the consequences are for dealing negatively; unfairly. Stay objective f you can. Judging the other party to be “wrong” may feel natural but all it will do is get their defenses up. Just call it for what it is from an objective place. Take the lead in returning the negotiations to a mutuality-based, win-win process. Be the enlightened negotiator; the model. That goes a long way in appearing powerful in a very positive way.

Remember, test and probe with questions when you think someone is using tactics. Be the leader. Go for win-win!


About The Author:

Jim Hornickel is co-founder of Bold New Directions, a transformational learning company that works with companies to transform people and performance through training solutions including seminars, webinars, coaching and keynote events. Bold New Directions specializes in training solutions that build leadership skills, communication skills and resilience at work. You can learn more about Jim Hornickel and the topic of Negotiations at Bold New Directions by visiting the company web site at