Negotiation Case Studies , Negotiating Tips , Negotiation Strategies , Business Negotiation September 02, 2010

Negotiation: Is it a fait accompli? (translation: Is it a done deal?)

A fait accompli (accomplished fact in French) is a negotiating tactic, generally used by diplomats, but also used in business. The principle is that one party will take a surprise action to create a favorable negotiating position...

A fait accompli (accomplished fact in French) is a negotiating tactic, generally used by diplomats, but also used in business. The principle is that one party will take a surprise action to create a favorable negotiating position. This accomplished fact impacts the outcome of the negotiation.

The fait accompli tactic works because it creates action. Once something is done, it is hard to get it undone and therefore, the balance of power between the parties is altered.

What does a fait accompli look like in a typical business negotiation? Here are a few examples:

• Violate a patent, and then work on the settlement
• Start a lawsuit, then talk
• Have a machine installed, then reject it and ask for a credit
• Declare bankruptcy before entering a settlement negotiation

To some, pulling a fait accompli is an unethical tactic. If the other party tries this on you, there are ways you can counteract:

• Anticipate the tactic and protect yourself by contract
• Take your own aggressive action
• Never pay in advance without a security
• Start your own lawsuit.
• Make the costs high if the other party does something aggressive

Don’t let your negotiation deteriorate into a done deal even before you have started talking! Be wary of the fait accompli.

Have you ever had to deal with a fait accompli move? What have you done to counter it?
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