When there is nothing left to negotiate.

History is coined by conquests and subjections. Driven by the interests of an alleged stronger counterpart, negotiations tend to become dictates. And if there’s no diplomatic result, the weapons speak. The increasing interconnectedness of the world makes it difficult to push a one-sided negotiation through. The inability to cope with the demands of an equal world leads a few people to relapse into martial times. Actually, we have learned to conduct negotiations to mutual satisfaction.

  • Treating people and problems separately
  • Discussing interests and needs instead of positions
  • Finding choices for mutual benefits
  • Negotiating objective criteria
  • Selecting your own BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement)
  • Agreeing

However, as soon as one’s own performance goes down, the assumed stronger have nothing more to offer, because others make the better offerings, then the bell tolls of the unfair negotiators.

Glancing at the news shows that today everywhere attempts are being made to replace modern negotiating styles with stubbornly repeated offers in the interest of one-sided advantages. We will see in the near future to what extent the Trumps, the British or the other uncooperative nationalists will get through with their approaches. The diplomatic delegates still let themselves look like fools. It is quite likely that in such cases an appropriate response could contribute to clarification. But what are the dodges of unfair negotiators?

  • Going back to Start
    If contracts are already in place, they are cancelled as soon as they have the opportunity. The best starting point for negotiations is a non-negotiated condition. Without the limitations of previous concessions, all basic conditions will be renegotiated. Acceptable, prior agreements can be generously approved in exchange for goodwill. In return, they demand unpleasant concessions.
    Since many joint advantages are lost in this step backwards, the disadvantages for the party that is terminating the contract should be clarified and published, so that their clientele is aware of the disadvantages. Especially false allegations and lies should be highlighted.
  • Polarizing the own interests in advance
    Before the actual meetings start, party emissaries list their own maximum­ requirements and declare them non-negotiable. The target group of these announcements is the own community of fans. This demonstrates that one acts steadfastly in their interests and is prepared to do everything for it.
    In this phase, collateral damage for related topics should be compiled and shown. Under certain circumstances, additional offers for third parties may be helpful in this case – e.g. locational advantages, special conditions, separate agreements.
  • Cajoling the negotiation partner
    In the meantime, before the first discussions, the personal atmosphere of the negotiations is positively charged with flattery – through personal appreciation, a conjured close relationship as well as a confidence in a positive outcome. The media will be provided with appropriate images, which will valorize the contract partner.
    As a reaction these flatteries should not be overestimated, as they give inexperienced contact persons a false sense of security and are intended to create a climate of discussion that is beneficial to one’s own interests. However, they can be integrated into your own marketing immediately, in order to strengthen your own internal negotiating position – before the actual attack happens.
  • Flexing the muscles
    The official interim reports are used to suggest decisiveness. On the one hand, the media helps to create pressure on the contractual partner by repeating the maximum requirements. On the other hand, the own filter bubble is provided with a show that demonstrates the own determination and reinforces the target group in their demands.
    The best answer is to interpret the statements in one’s own sense in public and to repeat the advantages of one’s own positions and the resulting disadvantages, so that the opposing followers are given the opportunity to develop their own opinions.
  • Insulting contractual partners
    The one-sided style of negotiation inevitably leads to stalled negotiations. Diplomatic contact persons are trying to push negotiations in the direction of win-win. The longer the talks run, the more certain disadvantages arise for unfair negotiators due to the increasingly clear conditions. The rising pressure leads to the fact that they begin to defame the negotiating partners and to accuse them of unfair negotiation conduct. This goes as far as diplomatic negotiators are accused of blocking the results – although it is due to the rigid demands and the unwillingness of the unilaterally business-minded contracting party to compromise.
    These unobjective insults should be answered with an extremely objective style – pointing out the available options, setting up deadlines, offering appointments and refusing to make such inappropriate statements.
  • Act of defiance
    If the negotiations show no progress and the unfair negotiating party is less and less likely to be able to push its own interests through, then it falls into a stubborn reaction. They show exaggerated disadvantages for all, which go at the expense of both contracting parties. They repeat their original unrealistic demands and threaten with the fruitless end of the negotiations. The blame is, of course, on the side of the opposing representatives. Public appearances are used to take the counterparts name in vain and blame them. The impending face loss leads them to eventually flee responsibility – by resigning, calling new elections or sitting out the remaining time until they are automatically replaced. With the beginning of the phase of defiance, any concessions should be stopped, since the opposing negotiator is now ineffective. It is a good moment to show the advantages that have had been so far and the willingness to rethink the previous conditions.

Bottom line: Autocrats, populists, bluffers and negotiation killers burden the achieved negotiation culture. Win-win approaches are mercilessly abused to their own advantage. Experienced negotiators lack response patterns to such unfair techniques. It seems to be time to uncover these ploys and make it clear that there are no reasonable answers – except: Tit-for-Tat. Therefore, one must be prepared for the fact that agreements with such contractual partners are unlikely. The good news is that globalization has greatly weakened the position of unfair negotiators. Many other contractual partners are available to take over previously valid contracts with win-win solutions, which are terminated by contract killers. The decisive factor for the unilateral negotiators is that the contract termination not only means the loss of obligations but also the loss of rights (see: here). To make this clear to everyone, the unfair negotiators must learn that they are without a treaty, especially without rights, when there is nothing left to negotiate.

P.S.: There are disadvantages resulting from fruitless negotiations – higher prices, import duties, other barriers to market access. However, when looking at the whole picture, it should quickly become clear that accepting one-sided contracts means more disadvantages at the bottom line.