You may encounter a negotiator who uses “surprise techniques” as a negotiating tactic. Some negotiators feel that surprises provide a good way to keep the pressure on the other party. I’ve been caught by surprise many times and it still shakes me up, at least for a short period of time.
Surprise tactics when negotiating acts as a communication block. The sudden introduction of unexpected events can cause the other party to lose face and thereby harden his or her position.
If this happens, the entire negotiation may be in trouble. Once you recognize that many surprises are negotiating tactics, you are in a better position to respond effectively. Before you can defend yourself against surprise negotiating tactics, it is wise to recognize the kinds of surprises you are likely to come up against.
Time surprises would consist of any changes in deadlines, change in pace, both parties losing patience, and shorter sessions than expected.
This can be frustrating to all of those involved because expectations are then changed, and everyone may not be properly prepared once this takes place. In order to combat time surprises, take some time to regroup once changes have been brought to the table, and create a new plan.
Changes in buyers, salespeople, and new team members, the disappearance of people, higher-level executives joining the negotiation, and experts or consultants being brought in are all examples of surprises in stakeholders and how that can change the negotiation process.
Another people surprise may be when nobody shows up for a meeting, or when someone shows up hours late, which in some high profile cases rarely happens, but when it does it can become quite an inconvenience for everyone involved.
When one person lacks the authority to make a decision or people who have the authority to make the decisions don’t show up is another surprise tactic that is sometimes used when negotiating.
There is not a definite way to predict if any of these things might occur when making a deal, but it is best to know the signs before things unravel.