Tactics Taking Talking Teaching Team Technology Tender Time Trust


A pack of wolves have practiced their tactics of taking down larger prey by working together. Their discipline gives them an edge over stronger, faster prey.

Tactics in negotiations are the available tools one has to advance his or her cause. Tactics are not goals or objectives. They are subsets of strategies that are deployed to implement a strategy and achieve an objective.

Negotiating tactics can range from predetermining the arrangement of chairs before a conference to offering to document the agreement. They are the weapons an infantry officer has to place while planning an ambush. The setting of the ambush, the terrain, the cover and the size of the enemy determine which weapons will be used and how they will be set up.

Knowing what weapons to use in a given situation is what sets the seasoned officer apart from the young lieutenants in the brigade. Similarly, experienced negotiators and mediators have a good grasp of the tactics available to them and plan their deployment based on their knowledge of the other party, the issue at hand and the importance of the dispute being settled.



Bonobos take their sexuality seriously. Anything that arouses the interest of more than one bonobo at a time tends to result in sexual contact. Bonobos use sex to divert attention from the issue and to diffuse tension before things get out of hand.

When you win an issue of debate, you effectively take possession of the issue. How you do this impacts future negotiations. Be considerate of the other person's loss. A short period of reconciliation is appropriate before proceeding to the next issue.

A mediator may force a break between the parties to force a cooling off period. If you are negotiating one on one, you can do the same thing. Suggest a coffee break or go to the restroom. This allows both sides to take a breath before returning to the table to continue discussions.

Taking advantage of another person, when you have the power to do so, is certainly appropriate in power negotiations. But be careful of the enemy you make. There may come a time when the power shifts and retribution could be painful.

When power is balanced and you have a unexpected opportunity to take advantage of the other person concerning a minor issue, consider where you are in the overall negotiation. You now have the opportunity to use your transient power to foreclose on the issue at hand or demonstrate your compassion to build a relationship that may advance your cause more than winning this lesser issue.

Family or spousal arguments are inflamed because of minor issues that are taken rudely and in an uncaring fashion. Don't let the fact that one person is a few moments late ruin a whole evening. In the grand scheme of things, being a few moments late is a minor infraction. Before such behavior becomes an habitual irritant, try to find a civil way to work around the events that cause the tardiness.

Taking control of the direction of a discussion provides you the ability to steer the negotiation toward your desired objective. Mediators and negotiators alike try to assume control of the dialogue. Mediators do it with the authority they have over the group. Negotiators must do it through small group leadership tactics.

Taking Leadership Techniques:

-Assume a leadership role within a small group to direct the discussion by offering to prepare the agenda for the meeting.

-Take on an instructional mode to inform and convince the other party of the merit of your position.

-Display empathy and support of the other person's dilemma to help them solve their situation while advancing your cause.

-Suggest the other person pretend they are you and consider things from your perspective as a way to get them to appreciate your argument.

Taking command of the situation is not always possible. But someone will do it. If faced with another's gaining leadership strength, seek to form a coalition of dual leadership by being less confrontational and more collaborative.



Parrots mimic man's words for attention and approval. This does not make them intelligent, only practiced.

Talking does not in and of itself make you a great communicator. It is what you say, how you say it, and how it is heard that determines if your message is persuasive.

The challenge for mediators and negotiators alike is that listening is typically impaired. People hear what they expect to hear. All people. That is, they filter what they hear to meet their expectations. Typically this 'adjusting' the message is unconscious.

When making a presentation in a team setting, be aware that each person is "hearing" something slightly different than the others based on their personal filtering system. After you have made an important point, ask someone to restate it. This will identify if it was heard correctly and reinforce the message to other sin the group.

Breaking down barriers to communication requires work, hard work. The ability to effectively state your message and validate that it has been heard and understood is what separates a great negotiator from his or her peers.



It has been documented that during reconciliation bonobos use the same sexual repertoire as they do during feeding time. Bonobos are taught from a very young age how to use sexual behavior as a mechanism to overcome aggression.

Teaching, coaching, informing others is a necessary part of a negotiator's repertoire. Properly prepared, your strategy is to inform and convince the other person as to why it is good for them that they agree with you.

You are not trying to convince them that you are right. That would not be right! And it does not matter to them. What you need to do is motivate them to agree with you as a way of helping themselves. That is, you need to make your objective appear to be in their interest.

Your aim is to provide information and facts that enlighten the other person that they need what you are offering. Once you establish the need on their part, then you can begin to garner the concessions the other person must make to reach an agreement. There are times when avarice and greed can be good! It is the creation of a motivating influence that helps to move people off their positions.

For example, in a real estate negotiation by being able to document the fair market value of a property you help the other person to realize that by lowering their price you will not be taking advantage of them. If they then agree to reduce their price, they don't lose face. They can justify the concession to others; and they can feel content that they have done the right thing. You have just provided the information they should have gathered on their own.



The team traits observed in chimpanzees include cooperative hunting and food sharing. These are some of the reasons chimpanzees are consider man's closest link.

Teams are dynamic entities in their own rights. By expanding a group, additional talents and perspectives are introduced. Additional members also increase communications and focus challenges. This can be beneficial to the process; or detrimental.

Like any other aspect of negotiations or management, teams need to be well managed.

If you are heading a negotiating team, you need to manage the people on your team. Even if they are "professionals" you are responsible for their preparation, research and the role they will play. This is especially important if they are "professionals". Too often clients delegate the preparation and research aspects of a settlement conference to their legal staff. This would be fine if the issues were going to be resolved by simply applying legal principles. When it comes to other issues and overall strategy, the responsibility is ultimately vested solely with the lead negotiator. You need to insure that everyone on your team knows their role, is prepared and, most importantly, that you have set the global strategy for the session and the parameters for settlement. If you have not done this, your teammates may send nonverbal signals during the discussions that conflict with what you or others are saying.

Negotiators and mediators can learn the nuances of informal, small group leadership from skilled sailors. Sailing a small boat requires knowledge of how each line works, what the boat's response is to pulling in or letting out a sheet, and how much or little sail to have up. Basically a well-trimmed craft needs little assistance from the sailor to maximize the wind's power and sail across a lake. Trimming a small group is similar to handling a small boat. The basics are the same. Without leadership neither wants to do what you want it to do. The boat will be pushed up on the rocks if you do nothing. The small group will flounder and fail without direction. Small adjustments to the lines and tiler are the best ways to trim a boat, not large, dramatic moves. It is the same with people. They respond best to gentle encouragement or a light form of rebuke.

If the other side brings in a team of negotiators, they are expanding their fire power not to accommodate a quick settlement but to defeat you! You need to take steps to manage their team. How do you do this?
By applying small group leadership tactics:

-Welcome them to the negotiation and indicate your appreciation of what they can lend to reaching an accord.

-Observe the other team's pecking order and note who your prime opponent defers to, if anyone. This will tell you who the real decision maker is.

-Interview each new member of the team as to their role, qualifications and specific area of expertise.

-State clearly and concisely the objective of the day's discussions in a fashion to get agreement on what will be discussed. By taking the lead in this regard, you will be establishing your role as the overall discussion leader.

-Ferret out areas where the other team members appear to not agree fully. This is best done by asking one person a specific, target question while observing another's reaction to the response. Typically the non-verbal communications will indicate any discord.

-Ask questions of members on the other team not specified as experts in the area to see how the team responds and to uncover latent leaders to be dealt with or possible fissures in their opinions.

-Take time to fully debrief the other team, especially the team members, before launching into the issues of the day. Once you do, your focus should be on the negotiation. By they your research and preparation regarding the new team should be as complete as possible.

Remember, negotiations is little more than small group management. If you can establish an informal leadership role, you will have much more control over the outcome of the session.



Chimpanzees use a rich array of strategies to obtain foods including cracking nuts with stone tools to fishing for ants and termites with sticks. Tool use in wild bonobos seems undeveloped; probably because of their obsession with sex!

We live in a fast paced era. Faxes, cellular phones, email all serve to accelerate the negotiation process. That very pace, however, can be detrimental to proper and effective negotiations. Sometimes you need time to digest an offer and respond.

Do not be pushed into a premature response because of technology. Before responding to an important proposal or counter, ask yourself if you have given your response enough strategic thought.

Strategic thought is more than just considering the merits of the offer. It also addresses the impact of the timing of the response, the formality of the response, and the anticipated reaction to the response.

To promote continued dialogue, responses should be strategically crafted to:

-Illicit acceptance; they must be reasonably viable for the other person.

-Be timed to reflect due consideration on your part; never rush to respond unless to do so would jeopardize a good settlement for you. Don't delay to th epoint where the other person thinks you are not serious.

-Be termed in a way that does not antagonize the other person needlessly.

-Leave an opening for the other person to counter if your response is aggressive and you don't think it can be accepted on face value.

-Finally, personalize it in some fashion. In an era when emails and faxes are the norm, the lack of a personal touch can result in a cold, calculating climate. It is easier to work through issues if you have cultivated a friend in the discussion process.

Remember, to be effective you need to manage the process. That includes managing time. When to meet, where to meet, when to counter or respond, how long to wait between meetings; these are all aspects of time that should be strategically managed.



When negotiating with a tribal chief for your life it is acceptable to offer up your guide as tender for your release.

Tendering a proposal or counter is an opportunity to make a strong statement to the other person. Tender offers should be strategically forged and presented to advance the discussions or cut them off.

To promote continued dialogue, responses should be strategically crafted:

-To illicit acceptance they must be reasonably viable for the other person.

-To be taken seriously they should be timed to reflect due consideration on your part

-To advance the discussion they should be termed in a way that does not antagonize the other person.

-To keep the door open if your offer is aggressive and likely to be deemed unacceptable it should be framed to leave an opening for the other person to counter.

-Finally, personalize the offer in some fashion. In an era when emails and faxes are the norm, the lack of a personal touch can result in a cold, calculating climate. It is easier to work through issues if you have cultivated a friend in the discussion process.



Timing your shot is of paramount importance when firing at a charging elephant. To miss your mark by firing too soon could cause your ego to be squashed bit!

Time is a precious commodity. Appreciate the time you are investing in resolving a dispute or negotiating an issue. Make sure your time is warranted before over-investing in a minor issue's resolution. Wasted time is not recoverable.

In addition to currency, time is likely to be the second most important commodity in a settlement conference. By understanding the dynamics of time, you will be able to use it tactically.

Time impacts of a negotiation or settlement conference:

-The time taken to attend a conference or meeting.

-Preparation time.

-Travel time to and from a meeting.

-Documentation preparation, review and follow up.

-Lost opportunity time to work on other tasks.

Remember that time is important to others as well. It can and should be used as a negotiating tactic. If the issue is a minor irritant for the other person, by being openly willing to prolong the time it will take to settle the issue you may indirectly encourage the other party to settle rather than waste additional time at the table.



A grizzly bear will not trust you to babysit her cub. Don't apply for the job!

Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussion, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews, literally any form of productive human interaction requires a basis of trust from which accords can be reached. Humans are inclined to want to trust each other. The need to trust one another is necessary to function in society.

Honesty or integrity is an essential personal characteristic for any negotiator regardless of the situation. If you have a good reputation others will listen with confidence. If not, you will have to sell each point hard and even then may still be doubted.

Make sure you mean what you say and that you are able to back it up with your actions or those of your company. Never intentionally give your word then go back on it. Sometimes situations change and you are forced to back out of an agreement. Never do so lightly. Explain the change that occurred, Clearly demonstrate your frustration at having to change your mind to the other person. Apologize profusely and empathize with the other person's angst. Try to find a way to make it up. You do not want others to think this is typical behavior for you.

If directed by superiors to reverse your word or go back on a contract, do not blame your boss or company. Even if that is the cause, it is your word that has being broken. Taking the heat personally demonstrates your sincerity and should save a good portion of your reputation. If such vacillation is habitual in your company, consider seeking another job where you can provide proper representation.

A person who holds a bitter resentment toward someone caused by a breach of trust may have lost the ability to trust anyone, much less the person who voilated their trust in the past. When this happens in a negotiation, the absence of trust will block any chance the parties have of opening up and solving the problem. In such a situation someone needs to suggest changing the negotiators or separating them. Often a mediator will put the parties into a permanent caucus setting and negotiate between the two parties, a process called shuttle diplomacy. This tactic diffuses that angst one or both of the parties has toward the other and may allow meaningful discussions to get started.

You have to be willing to get burned by people from time to time to effectively negotiate. Negotiating requires you have faith in the other person.



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