I recently worked with someone who was dealing with a very difficult client. The client was obstinate and demanding. They kept repeating, “You’re the most expensive,” “We would never pay that,” “You’re not easy to work with,” “You’re a dime a dozen,” and “Others will do this for us if you won’t.” Frustrated and demoralized, my client asked me, “If they hate us so much, why are they still negotiating?”
That was precisely the right question to ask. If my client has nothing the aggressor wants, then why would the aggressor engage? They engage because of their own self-interest. In the most basic terms, they either want something or want to avoid something. There’s no other reason.
When we’re in this situation, we often start to explore the question “Why are they being mean to me?” While discovering the answer may provide some emotional comfort, it may not be that useful to the negotiation. Instead, explore this question: “Why are they still negotiating?”
To learn that answer, ask these questions:
“What do I have that they want?” Look for whatever it is that they may want from you. It could be as obvious as your product or service, or it could be less obvious, like your market intelligence or presence helping them fill an internal policy obligation.
“What can I do that they’re trying to avoid?” These are the deterrents you can put in place, and they could include anything from charging late fees to not delivering something on time, which could delay something else on their end.
“What real alternatives do they have?” Understand their alternatives if they were not to do a deal with you. If yours is an existing relationship, switching is frequently more costly than staying. (BTW, if you think they’re bluffing, read this.)
“What happens if I walk away from the deal?” Similar to the question above, but with a slightly different take — you end the negotiation. If you were to walk away from the table, that may create internal problems or credibility issues for the other party. It could also create leverage for you.
The answers to all these questions will help put their aggression into context. In addition, they can give you a lot more leverage than, perhaps, you otherwise would’ve had. They can also reveal that you really shouldn’t do a deal with them! Regardless, they will move you from “Why are they negotiating with me?” to “How can we get this deal done?”
We Can Help You Learn Why an Aggressive Party Is Still Negotiating With You.
Are you dealing with a difficult party that uses aggressive tactics to get what they want? If so, you may be asking yourself, “If they hate us so much, why are they still negotiating?” Good question — and one that we can help answer, creating leverage for you in the process. Drawing on nearly 50 years of real-world negotiating experience, we’ll assist you with getting better deals, saving time, and creating value for all involved — not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Let us partner you with one of our advisers, ensuring that you’ve got the broadest view of your deal.