Skip To The Main Content


Has the tone in negotiations become harsher?

Feb 25, 2019

Negotiations are getting tougher - are you ready for it?

In November 2018, we asked our community of expert negotiators to tell us if negotiations had become tougher. The answer given by a majority of C-level executives was crystal clear: yes, negotiations are getting tougher - for a number of reasons. Let’s have a look at the detail.


A new arrogance

Tough negotiators are nothing new, but respondents were observing a growing element of ego. In line with societal trends of growing showmanship and egotism, negotiators said they were increasingly confronted with brazen and arrogant behaviour at the negotiating table. Demonstrations of power and authority have become more common. Respondents said that negotiating partners are more often using tactics aimed at putting them on the defensive from the get-go. On the flip side, respect, politeness and the willingness to collaborate were decreasing.


Grafik 2 


Absurd demands

A recurring theme was that demands are increasingly placed at a level that is beyond unrealistic, to the point where they are perceived to be insulting and damaging to relationships. Respondents also noted that their negotiating partners are increasingly threatening them with dire consequences if the negotiation fails to meet the desired outcomes.


Smaller landing zone

The cake is getting smaller – respondents felt that negotiators across all industries are under ever-growing pressure to deliver to higher targets in mature markets. Time pressure has increased, and positions are often further apart than in the past. Less room for concessions means there are fewer windows of opportunity.  Therefore, many respondents noted a sinking willingness to compromise, with entrenched positions and a confrontational style becoming more common.


Cultural differences

Those respondents negotiating internationally observed that, while demands have increased, the tone in the German-speaking world has not changed drastically. However, since the election of the current US President, the tone in negotiations with US partners has become tougher and demands even more unrealistic.


Get ready for some serious sparring!

Arrogant behaviour, absurd demands, fights over diminishing margins – negotiations are certainly NOT getting easier. Embrace this new reality! Our seminars have prepared you for this so now it’s time to show them how good you are! If you feel you need to up your negotiating skills to succeed in this environment, check out our seminars here.


Is your business ready?

We’re observing that businesses are mostly unprepared to deal with high-stakes negotiations. They may have a pool of trained negotiators but no masterplan to deal with escalations. Does your business have clear processes to deal with this scenario? Do your negotiating teams have the support they need? If you’re in doubt, contact us to discuss a tailored negotiation strategy for your business.