Tactics are always an important part of the negotiating process. But tactics don't often jump up and down shouting "Here I am, look at me." If they did, the other side would see right through them and they would not be effective. More often than not, they are subtle, difficult to identify and used for multiple purposes. Tactics are more frequently used in distributive negotiations and when the focus in on taking as much value off the table as possible. Many negotiation tactics exist. Below are a few commonly used tactics.
- Auction: The bidding process is designed to create competition. When multiple parties want the same thing, pit them against one another. When people know that they may lose out on something, they will want it even more. Not only do they want the thing that is being bid on, they also want to win, just to win. Taking advantage of someone's competitive nature can drive up the price.
- Brinksmanship: One party aggressively pursues a set of terms to the point at which the other negotiating party must either agree or walk away. Brinkmanship is a type of hard nut approach to bargaining in which one party pushes the other party to the brink or edge of what that party is willing to accommodate. Successful brinksmanship convinces the other party they have no choice but to accept the offer and there is no acceptable alternative to the proposed agreement.
- Bogey: Negotiators use the bogey tactic to pretend that an issue of little or no importance to him or her is very important. Then, later in the negotiation, the issue can be traded for a major concession of actual importance.
- Chicken: Negotiators propose extreme measures, often bluffs, to force the other party to chicken out and give them what they want. This tactic can be dangerous when parties are unwilling to back down and go through with the extreme measure.
- Defense in Depth: Several layers of decision-making authority is used to allow further concessions each time the agreement goes through a different level of authority. In other words, each time the offer goes to a decision maker, that decision maker asks to add another concession in order to close the deal.
- Deadlines: Give the other party a deadline forcing them to make a decision. This method uses time to apply pressure to the other party. Deadlines given can be actual or artificial.
- Flinch: Flinching is showing a strong negative physical reaction to a proposal. Common examples of flinching are gasping for air, or a visible expression of surprise of shock. The flinch can be done consciously or unconsciously. The flinch signals to the opposite party that you think the offer or proposal is absurd in hopes the other party will lower their aspirations. Seeing a physical reaction is more believable than hearing someone saying, I'm shocked.
- Good Guy/Bad Guy: The good guy/bad guy approach is typically used in team negotiations where one member of the team makes extreme or unreasonable demands, and the other offers a more rational approach.] This tactic is named after a police interrogation technique often portrayed in the media. The good guy will appear more reasonable and understanding, and therefore, easier to work with. In essence, it is using the law of relativity to attract cooperation. The good guy will appear more agreeable relative to the bad guy. This tactic is easy to spot because of its frequent use.
- Highball/Lowball: Depending on whether selling or buying, sellers or buyers use a ridiculously high, or ridiculously low opening offer that will never be achieved. The theory is that the extreme offer will cause the other party to reevaluate his or her own opening offer and move close to the resistance point (as far as you are willing to go to reach an agreement). Another advantage is that the person giving the extreme demand appears more flexible he or she makes concessions toward a more reasonable outcome. A danger of this tactic is that the opposite party may think negotiating is a waste of time. The Nibble: Nibbling is asking for proportionally small concessions that haven't been discussed previously just before closing the deal. This method takes advantage of the other party's desire to close by adding just one more thing.Snow Job: Negotiators overwhelm the other party with so much information that he or she has difficulty determining which facts are important, and which facts are diversions.] Negotiators may also use technical language or jargon to mask a simple answer to a question asked by a non-expert.