‘What strategies can you employ to overcome impasses in negotiations?’

LinkedIn recently invited me as an expert on ‘negotiation’ to contribute a comment to a discussion on LinkedIn entitled – ‘What strategies can you employ to overcome impasses in negotiations?’

My reply is set out below. While seemingly obvious, you will not find it in any book about negotiation that I have read. This occurred to me whilst reflecting on an important commercial negotiation which was successful, when I worked in-house as a commercial lawyer negotiating contracts around the world for Rolls Royce & Alstom (in Paris):

‘If you can isolate, agree and understand the “constraint”, i.e. the road-block to agreement, then in my experience, quite often the solution presents itself to you almost instantly, in a flash. Very often the answer is obvious, and has been staring you in the face. However, for the brain to process the dynamics driving the impasse, in order to develop a solution through sudden insight, you need first to understand what those dynamics are and how they operate. It is not genius. It is logic + imagination.’

To probe, a Negotiator/Mediator may ask:

‘Why is this important to you?’

‘Why is this a problem for you?’

Today I would add – If a ‘constraint’ can be transformed into, or be re-framed as, an ‘opportunity’, then the result may be a ‘win/win/win’ solution all round – see my recent blog below – ‘Negotiation Skills & Strategies.’

This requires ‘deep’ and ‘intuitive’ listening skills, ’emotional intelligence’, and ‘clear thinking’.

You not only have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You also have to help them find a way around or through the apparent ‘road-block’, which in their mind works for them. In other words, you have to help them to work out a solution for themself. That requires subtlety.

To read the replies to the LinkedIn discussion provided by all invited experts – see: What strategies can you employ to overcome impasses in negotiations? (linkedin.com)