Negotiating Tips, Business Negotiation February 23, 2011

5 Effective Countermeasures to Escalation

Many negotiators use the escalation tactic because it is effective. At times, escalation can be used unethically. For instance, both parties agree on a price and the next day the seller raises the price so that a compromise ends up with a higher price.

However, some escalation is ethical and productive. People tend to lag on decision-making and tend to stick to their decisions once they are made. Dr. Chester L. Karrasswrites that: “Escalation can help a seller prove that the price originally proposed is a fair one.” He adds that escalation can also be used ethically to discourage additional demands. Karrass says:

Whenever you as a buyer or seller want to convey your resolve and tell the other party that they have gone as far as they can go, escalation is an ethical alternative.

If you are dealing with an escalation (either ethical or unethical) here are five effective countermeasures:

  1. Call the other party’s bluff.
  2. Counter-escalate—change your offer or demand.
  3. Give yourself time to think.
  4. Consider walking away from the deal.
  5. Get high-level people/decision-makers to sign a contract.

Remember, when you are using these countermeasures you are testing the other party. Your mission is to test vigorously.

How do you deal with escalation? Tell us in the comments.

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