Policy and Practice

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Identification

This authoritative tactic occurs when one cites a policy or a common practice as to why they cannot agree to something. Fortune 100 companies use this against smaller companies constantly and with great success.

Example

Any instance in which a negotiator says, “That is not our policy,” or, “We have never done that before,” is an example of this tactic. Consider the following negotiation: Negotiator 1: “We can’t agree to share suppliers’ information with you. It is our policy not to share that information.” Negotiator 2: “Show me the policy.” OR Negotiator 1: “It is a trade secret.” Negotiator 2: “You just told me of its existence, that’s not much of a secret.” Negotiator1: “Well, there are elements that are secret, but the policy – it's part of our culture – let’s take a break so I can check.” Negotiator 1: [Silence] Negotiator 2: “Is that policy really a trade secret? Is it written?” Negotiator 2: “Is that policy really a trade secret? Is it written?” [Later] Negotiator 1: “We can share suppliers’ information with you if you sign a non-disclosure.” Negotiator 2: “We already have.”

Solution

It is often illogical to blindly follow policy in every situation, and in some cases the policy may go against the pecuniary interests of the party asserting it.

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