Negotiating: Forcing vs Compromising

Forcing is a hard-nosed approach that makes heavy demands from the outset. Emotions are displayed frequently, few concessions are made, and the bottom line may be concealed. This technique is used when the other side is determined to make you lose, or in one-shot deals. One advantage of this approach is that it normally uses less time than other approaches and leads to total victory if you have more power than the other side. The disadvantage of forcing is that it can lead to stalemate if the other side uses the same approach. The other side can also become resentful and vengeful.

The forcing approach to negotiating places value solely on the substance of negotiations rather than the relationship between the parties. A forcing negotiator would be pleased if he or she won 100% of the issues, even if the relationship between the parties was irreversibly damaged or even destroyed. This approach has limited use within organizations. It is foolish and dangerous to burn bridges with anyone with whom you work. Perhaps if you are negotiating with a person you'll never deal with again (e. g., a used car salesperson) you might want to experiment with the forcing approach. Otherwise, this isolating type of negotiation is not relevant for most managers.

In the compromising approach, both negotiators start with exaggerated demands and then slowly work their way toward some middle position. The parties are concerned only with their own needs, and they may also stereotype and malign each other. Compromising is used when the parties are interdependent and continued dispute would be more costly than agreement. The benefits of compromising are that it is a natural style for most people, and it appears to be quite fair as both sides win and lose. The drawback of compromising is that it can lead to extreme initial positions as both sides anticipate splitting the difference, therefore yielding agreements about which neither side is really happy.

CEO, A. E. Schwartz Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.


Negotiation(c) 2014.