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How To Negotiate a Deadlock

by Mary Greenwood

A deadlock occurs when the parties to a negotiation cannot reach agreement. Usually they are tired and frustrated and ready to give up. Here are a few Rules to chip away at the deadlock and close the deal.

1. Take a Break.

If the emotions are high and both parties are clearly frustrated and tired, it might be time for a break. Clear the air and get a fresh start the next day or the next week. Give assignments and/or deadlines to work on during the break. Try brainstorming when you get back to see if anything has been overlooked. This is the time to emphasize mutual interests and try to close the deal.

2. Agree in Principal and Work Out the Details Later.

Although it is important to get all the Iís dotted and Tís crossed, sometimes you have to agree on the principal to get the negotiations moving again. Otherwise the negotiations may get bogged down working out every word and every possible contingency. Getting an agreement in principal is a morale booster. There is a shift when there is some agreement and the parties can come back later time to work out the details.

3. Stress What Will Happen If No Agreement Is Made

A. We will have to start all over. B. What we have agreed to will not go into effect. C. If we let a third party make the decision, we might not like the result. D. We may lose the control to fashion our own settlement. E. We will loose a lot of time.

4. Be Prepared to Give One More Thing.

There are some people who are never going to be satisfied and they always want one more thing. This is human nature, I guess, to squeeze as much out of the other side as possible. Knowing this trait will allow you to always keep a bargaining chip or two up your sleeve to close the deal. If you donít have to use the bargaining chip, that is even better. Remember you might be able to get one last thing as well.

5. Know When to Hold and When to Fold.

Unfortunately not all negotiations end in settlement. If you have made several suggestions which were not met with any discussion or interest, this may be one of those negotiations that remains deadlocked. On the other hand, if you are still talking to each other and making some progress, even though very slowly, it might be worthwhile to still keep plodding away. Donít let the negotiation go forever. Just as the song says, sometimes you need to know when to fold.

About the Author

Mary Greenwood, J.D. is an arbitrator, mediator and author of "How to Negotiate like a Pro, 41 Rules for Resolving Disputes".


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