Negotiating Tips , Negotiation Strategies , Business Negotiation February 18, 2011

Negotiation Bypass

Just like a heart bypass procedure can be life-saving, a negotiation bypass can save your negotiation. And similar to when you are treating a heart condition, a bypass is a serious tactic that should only be used when absolutely necessary...

Just like a heart bypass procedure can be life-saving, a negotiation bypass can save your negotiation. And similar to when you are treating a heart condition, a bypass is a serious tactic that should only be used when absolutely necessary.

In negotiations, a bypass “seeks to open new communications channels for a variety of legitimate reasons.” (Karrass, Chester: Give and Take). The reasons include:

  • Breaking an impasse

  • Getting to the real decision maker

  • Reversing a prior decision

  • Negotiating with someone easier to deal with

  • Testing an offer.


It is easier for a buyer to bypass a salesperson than for a salesperson to bypass a buyer. The selling side is interested in making a sale, perhaps even at the expense of a salesperson’s pride. On the other hand, buyers can decide not to buy for a variety of reason, and can retreat or look elsewhere.

There is a problem when bypassing the party you have been dealing with: anger and even hostility. Going above someone’s head or talking to other people in the organization will result in ruffling feathers, awkwardness and may make some people truly unhappy.  The bypass can even backfire. According to Dr. Karrass: “The bypass or end run works only against groups that are so poorly coordinated that they let it happen.”

There are ways of lessening the emotional impact of a bypass. For instance, you could attempt to talk to the alternative party when the original party is on vacation or on leave. You could also use the explanation that the operation requires a higher up to supervise, or you could even change the negotiation venue to somewhere where the person you want to negotiate is located.

Have you had to bypass the party you were in negotiations with? How did you handle it?
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