Counter-argue before they argue (just in case!)

Friday, May 13, 2016, by Eliane Karsaklian

A few weeks ago I asked for an appointment with the director of a company I have been working with for a while in Paris. Our meeting was supposed to last just one hour during which we would talk about our collaboration in several aspects.

Not only did the meeting start late, because that person was ‘very busy’, but also during the first 40 minutes I was unable to get in a single word. She kept talking about how difficult things are now, how their clients’ downsizing has been affecting her company’s profitability, how horrible this financial crisis is, taxes, certifications, employees, and a very costly office renovation. She kept going on and on, and on.

She didn’t know what my point was, but made sure I would not have enough time to say much. And just in case I wanted to complain about something, she had already prepared the field for me to not do so.

Well, my point was that I was not happy with their lack of ethics and lack of respect of intellectual property, the increasing bureaucracy I was confronted with every time I worked with them, and mainly, I was not happy with their fees.

She denied the ethical issues by saying that she was not aware of any of them but would consult with the staff. Her response to my comments about about the fees was to say over and over again how much of a struggle it was to survive in the market now. I replied that it was tough for everyone and that if she wanted me to understand what her company was going through she needed to understand what I was going through as a consultant as well.

Not surprisingly, she totally ignored what I said and kept whining about how hard it had become to make profit, especially now that they had bought 3 new offices and hired 12 new employees. I was the one who should understand how difficult that all was for them.

This is the type of walk away situation in negotiation. A lack of ethical behavior, lack of willingness to listen and to empathize with the other side and lack of honesty are typical of deal breakers.

How do you identify them? Every time you feel like people are mocking you.