Lots of people see negotiating as a series of tricks, tactics and levers, something of a game designed to undermine confidence and wrest control. They can be creative, innovative even, and against the unskilled often effective. The problem with a tactical approach, though, is when you come up against a skilled opponent.
Anybody who watched England play Italy in the recent six nations rugby championship will have seen the Italians adopt a tactical approach that Eddie Jones, the England coach suggested was not rugby, but basketball. A crazy aberration.
Essentially and I have no intention of going into real depth of detail the Italians decided not to contest the ball when it went to ground or a ruck was formed. This meant that no player could be offside and allowed the Italian team to essentially get in the way of the England players, as they attempted to pass the ball away from the tackle.
As a tactic it worked, initially. As an England fan it surprised me that it continued to work for almost a full half of international play. Shame on them.
However, once the tactic had been recognised England had the skillset to find a solution, they simply ran direct through the Middle of the ruck.
Sir Clive Woodward’s World Cup winning team had a call known as “Kit Kat”, when called a nominated player would go down injured and force a break in the game, to buy themselves thinking time. I don’t think it would have taken them a full half to work things out.
In my view a multi-dimensional, a skilled negotiator trumps a tactical one dimensional negotiator. As a result, the tactical negotiator will sometimes resort to the less ethical end of the tactical approach to gain control.
Dirty Tricks are designed to bamboozle, wrong foot, side track, undermine confidence and generally deceive or even cheat a win. Think footballers who dive, waive pretend cards at referees or feign injury through to marathon runner who took the bus and Lance Armstrong.
Look out for them. Use them if you like, although we are not fans. But use them with care and consideration for the long term. Diving footballers get a reputation and don’t get penalties when they deserve them and the chances of Lance Armstrong rehabilitating his reputation are slim. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
As professional negotiators we see lots of dirty tricks and tactics. Some of the most common and obvious ones are available here in our free eBook download:The Dirty Tricks of Negotiation