Impasses or deadlocks stop your business negotiation in its tracks. Although it is hard to get past deadlock, it can be done.

Many negotiators are reluctant to return to negotiations due to loss of face or other personal issues. And, often, negotiators don’t want to make the first move toward breaking the impasse and wait for the other party to do so.

Here are few things to do to break an impasse (and save face in the process):

Make a plan to open the discussion in a face-saving way. Your goal is to get the other party to listen.

Try to break down what is causing the impasse. Various reasons, including personality differences or poor decision-making ability could be behind the impasse. Once you pinpoint the cause, you may be able to figure out a work-around.

Change the negotiator. This tactic serves many purposes:

  • Shows you are making a conciliatory move
  • You may be able to address personality issues
  • Gives the team a way to retreat from previous concessions or to be able to introduce new arguments
  • The unpredictability of this tactic is disconcerting to the other party.

Not all impasses can be broken. Negotiators who face an unbreakable impasse may have to be able to walk away from the negotiating table. Perhaps a more productive discussion can be held at another time.

How do you break an impasse? Please share your tips.

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