Camp Systems

What to Do When a Stranger Interrupts a Negotiation

Business woman in the boardroom

Posted on January 27, 2023 by Dave DeSantis

You’ve been working on this negotiation for six months and made lots of progress. Notably, you’ve identified your negotiation purpose and undertand the real problems that need to be addressed. 

Also, you have listed all your and your respected opponent’s team members. You’ve identified the decision-makers, influencers, or blockers. 

You also have a good idea of the overall negotiation’s budgets (time, energy, money, and emotional components). Even more, you understand the budgets for each of the decision-makers.

Then out of nowhere, a new person, Claude, starts emailing and calling you for information. Who is this person? You need to figure it out.

What should you do? 

You have to slow down.

Yes, slow down.

It would be best to find out where Claude is from, what he is looking for, and what’s on his mind. Don’t say much to him until you find out these three things.

Play him up by politely asking questions, but don’t disclose any information.

Claude could be a friend that stopped by and butted in. Or he could be a fundamental part of this negotiation that you need to be aware of.

When unsure, you should stop the negotiation by pausing your agenda with the original parties until you know Claude’s agenda.

Don’t give it all away

Please don’t give out information to Claude or share the negotiation details with him. Instead, talk about him and let him talk about himself so you can figure out his role and motives.

If Claude tries to steer things off course or hijack the agenda, acknowledge what he said and his requests. You can even use the 3+ behavior to confirm that you understand what he said. But don’t agree to anything. 

You can say, “that’s a nice idea, but we aren’t prepared to talk about it right now in a way that would be helpful to you.” 

This statement will help you deflect Claude’s request and allow you to either stick to your original agenda or stop the negotiation and regroup. 

Talk to the original parties

If the original parties question why you aren’t moving ahead, start a side conversation with them.

Talking about your original agenda, the original parties may say, “I thought you were going to….” 

You can respond, “Now that Claude may be part of the negotiation, I want to confirm that our prior agenda is the best way to proceed for everyone.”

This strategy works if Claude is on your side of the negotiation or your respected opponents’. 

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