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The pity play in negotiation: reject it, or you become the grinch

Imagine you are negotiating the handover of accounts that had already been decided.

But now the other sales manager, who's been longer in the company and has more power than you are, is delaying.
Finally, he only passes you half of the agreed account.

When you pressure him, he says:

Len: Cut me some slack here. I'm getting a lot of pressure from my people. They don't want their commission hurt and if I pass you 50 more accounts, they will be in trouble. And I will be in big troubles.

This is a form of pity play.
It doesn't look like one because it's delivered with a stronger frame, but it's a pity play nonetheless because it leverages the same dynamics: if you keep pushing, you will look like you are taking advantage of them and you become the "bad guy".

To keep negotiating for what's already been agreed, you must sidestep it and go back to the original agreement.
For example:

You: Nobody does, Len. Nobody does want to see their commission hurt. Neither do my guys, who are still waiting for what had already been decided. And that's the point: we have an agreement here, and I want you to uphold that agreement.

This is taken from "The Shadow Negotiation".

In the original text, the answer is to reframe it to an opportunity, such as:

You: Nobody does. That's the reason behind my group. While we work on the developing accounts, you can concentrate on the existing ones. It's an opportunity.

But I thought this wasn't optimal.

He might reply that there is no way he could make up for the lost accounts with the existing ones, and weasel himself out of it. Instead, you must go back to the biggest leverage you've got: that you had already agreed on it, and that you want what was agreed upon.

Potentially, you can even turn into a questions of morals and ethics: is he a game player, reneging on the deal and forcing you to escalate the matter (stick / threat), or is he going to keep his word and establish a fruitful and respectful relationship like you prefer (the carrot) ?


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