Defending Your Position When Negotiating

During any negotiation there may be times when you find yourself under attack. For example you might be in a negotiation with a customer, another organisation or another department and one of the member from the other side argues strongly against you and your position. You realise that the arguments being used against you are highly doubtful, but worse than that other people in the room are starting to nod in agreement. What can you do to save this situation? How can you counter these arguments?

There are a variety of negotiating approaches which you can use, depending on the circumstances, to defend your position.

1. Challenge the basis of the arguments.

Concentrate on the facts on which the arguments against you based and try to disprove them. Ask for proof or evidence of any statements made: if someone has quoted figures to support their case, ask to see those figures. Don’t be put off by the argument “I haven’t got them here, but everyone knows that …”. Stand your ground.

2. Expose contradictions in the case against you.

You should always be on the lookout for contradictions in the arguments which people use to support their own case. For example, you might in a meeting with a buying committee, and on of the opponents to your proposal supports his arguments with a wealth of statistics drawn from internal sources, but at the same time claims that you are not providing him with adequate background information.

3. Dispute faulty logic.

Watch out for the conclusions, which have been drawn from the facts provided, and expose any mistakes in the logic. Remember: people often get their facts right but then draw the wrong conclusions from these facts!

4. Demand specifics.

When one of your colleagues complains that you have always made it difficult for him to be more successful in his own patch, ask him to provide specific examples. If someone claims that they find your proposal absolutely terrible, challenge them to be more specific: “Exactly who finds it terrible and why?”

5. Quote similar examples.

This is a technique used by politicians the world over. When members of the Opposition accuse the ruling party of shortcomings, they are met with examples of their own shortcomings when they were in power.

Negotiating well is not just for those in a sales role, managers and buyers also need to learn how to negotiate effectively.