Something for something, i.e. positional negotiations

Service Business

Positional negotiations, also known as confrontational ones, are used by negotiators who care primarily about satisfying their own needs, regardless of the other party's interests. These types of conversations take place in a nervous atmosphere and are accompanied by various tricks and negotiation techniques. People sitting at the table try to convince the contractor to make concessions, while not resigning from their position. The winner in positional negotiations is the one who obtained the most by giving as little as possible.

Positional negotiations - course

Positional negotiations take place according to the following pattern:

  1. Party A making a proposal,

  2. analysis of the A-side proposal by B-side,

  3. counter-proposal from side B,

  4. assessment of side B's counter-proposal by side A.

Positional negotiations are mostly about constant concessions. What if neither side wants to step back from their position? There is an impasse that can be overcome by using an appropriate negotiation technique. Using a given tactic will not always be beneficial for both partners. Someone will have to give up some of their expectations in order for the conversations to move forward.


When applying positional negotiations, follow a few guidelines below:

  • never be the first to back down - try to make the other party reduce their demands,

  • conduct negotiations taking into account the increasing degree of difficulty - at the beginning, discuss issues on which you will quickly come to an agreement with your partner,

  • try to predict what concession will be made by the other party - prepare your counter-offer and think about what you could possibly give up,

  • in a deadlock situation, find a question that will be quickly discussed by you. If you want the negotiations to gather momentum, discuss those points on which you and your partner agree.


Why are position negotiations not effective?

Position negotiation is not the best way to reach an agreement. People sitting at the table treat their contractor as a rival and an enemy to be defeated. Negotiators focus on the concessions and offers they could make. The bids that fall are analyzed in detail. The parties are not interested in developing a contract that would satisfy the needs of both partners. The main thing is to realize your interests. And the opponent's goals are irrelevant.

Positional negotiations suffer from numerous disadvantages:

  • talks last a long time, drag on - negotiators are physically and mentally exhausted, so at the very end they can easily make a mistake and agree to unattractive terms,

  • the reached agreement is rarely beneficial to both parties,

  • lead to the deterioration of interpersonal relationships,

  • often end in a forced compromise,

  • negotiators take a competitive attitude - they treat the defense of their position personally,

  • they take a lot of time and money - they are ineffective.

Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

When can positional negotiation be used?

The use of positional negotiations is justified when we are dealing with a competitor-oriented partner. We would like to work out a solution that would be beneficial for us and our contractor, but he attacks us and clings to his position. In such a situation, we can abandon cooperation and start playing the game that our opponent started.

Position negotiations are also used by negotiators who have greater bargaining power and can dictate the terms of the contract. However, it should be remembered that enforcing certain contractual arrangements is possible only when we cooperate with a given contractor once. The use of a rivalry approach to negotiation negatively affects interpersonal relationships and creates a desire to play back. At the next meeting, we could be the weaker party who would have to accept the partner's non-negotiable offer.