Bad Negotiators Use Emotion to Negotiate

I just went on a rant about this and a colleague told me I should blog about it so here goes. I had a call the other day with a big client. The call was a preliminary negotiation call. We’re going to discuss terms of an agreement extension in a couple weeks.

From the outset of the call, the client surprised me by being both rude and confrontational -- lots of sarcasm and sighing. They explained that they might want to go to RFP. Oh, and of course, they want a fee reduction this year.

Not a nice way to start off a call between two companies that have had a very positive relationship for many years. Why would they start the call this way? Are they just rude? Are they really mad?

I don’t think so. My answer is that they’re bad negotiators that don’t want to do the homework and preparation required to get what they want.

Good negotiators don’t do this. Good negotiators are polite, friendly, do their homework and have ruthless, rock solid business angles as to why they should get what they want. Good negotiators don’t simply threaten to go to RFP; rather, they build leverage by citing the rational, business reasons why they might end up going to RFP (budget cuts, poor performance, shifting priorities, changing markets, competition, etc.).

When negotiators don’t have rock solid, logical business arguments they’re forced to rely on fake, insincere emotion to make their argument.

My advice: rather than put yourself and the people on the other end of the phone through this nonsense, reschedule the call for a later date until you can do your homework and prepare your angles. That’s a lot more fun and productive than just pretending to be mad.