Impasse 1 – Impossible

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Identification

The Impossible impasse opens a series of deal tactics where positions become entrenched and progress in the negotiation stops. The impossible impasse is when one party claims that the other’s demand is “impossible,” but this is rarely true.

Example

This tactic is seen any time one party says, “We just can’t agree on this. It cannot be done. It is impossible.”

Solution

To break this impasse, there are two paths that may help us. One is to take a coffee break and task the team to conduct a brainstorming exercise, much like in Fisher and Ury’s seminal work Getting to Yes. A second way is to ask what is driving the impossibility, then see whether it can be dealt with. If neither works, this is a signal that the deal will not be done, and that the parties don’t want to put in the effort. No deal is better than a forced, bad deal.

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