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What is Avoidance Negotiation? 3 Powerful Examples
- Avoidance negotiation refers to a negotiation style where you do not acknowledge the negotiation.
- Compromising negotiation is the complete opposite of avoidance negotiation as it aims to discuss and earn common ground with the other party.
- You can use the avoidance negotiation when the issue being discussed is not important.
However, alongside direct dialogue, there exists an often underappreciated strategy: the art of strategic avoidance. Unlike the proactive compromising approach, where both parties actively seek a middle ground, the avoidance technique involves a deliberate decision to momentarily disengage from active negotiations.
Avoidance Negotiation Style – What is It?
The avoidance negotiation style is a strategic approach wherein one or both sides decide to step back or wait before discussing an issue.
One or both parties disengages from negotiation, rather than confront or collaborate on the issue at hand. This is often used when the circumstances may not be favorable for direct negotiation.
To put it simply, you negotiate by not acknowledging the negotiation.
Below, you’ll find the overview of where avoidance negotiation fits within the negotiation styles framework.
Avoidance negotiation is in the bottom left of the negotiation strategy chart, meaning it has low concern for both opponent and yourself.
Avoidance Negotiation StyleExamples
Example 1: The Camp David Accords
- Leaders of Israel and Egypt avoid negotiations after heated negotiations
The Camp David Accords were agreements signed by Israel and Egypt on September 17, 1978.
It was a momentous occassion as heavy fighting between the two countries had erupted when Israel occupied some of the territories claimed by Egypt. President Jimmy Carter vowed to establish peace between the two nations, so he invited the leaders of both countries to visit him in Camp David in rural Maryland for another shot at peaceful negotiations.
Both leaders stayed in Camp David for 13 days and negotiations were so heated that both leaders decided to avoid further negotiations. Prospects for a settlement became so bleak that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat threatened to leave. At the last minute, however, Isreali Prime Minister Menachem Begin began to allow the Israeli parliament to hold discussions regarding the settlements that were established on Egyptian captured territory.
Discussions began again between the two countries until both leaders agreed to some of President Carter’s proposals. The accords were signed and the two countries formally ended the war.
It’s said that the long waiting period must have pressured the Israeli prime minister to give in to negotiation concession, despite his stand on not abandoning the settlements that were built on captured Egyptian territory.
Example 2: The Trump Wall
Ex-president Trump’s failed wall negotiations with Mexico
During his 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised his supporters that the United States will build a wall along the Mexican border to reduce illegal immigration and combat drug and weapons trafficking. He also stated that Mexico will be the ones to pay for the wall; a popular gimmick to capture the favor of Americans who believe that the US should be careful with how it spends its budget.
The campaign promise proved to be effective, as Donald Trump wins the elections and is sworn in as President. However, Mexico did not like the idea one bit, with the Mexican President stating that his country “…does not believe in walls but believes in bridges”.
High-level negotiators from the US and Mexico were already scheduled to begin talks on trade, immigration, and border security, while the Mexican President agreed to travel to the White House for meetings on January 31, 2016. Unfortunately, on the night of January 25, Trump stated in an interview that planning for the wall was starting immediately and that “federal funds would be used to pay for the wall and that the US government would seek reimbursement from Mexico.” This aggravated the situation, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceling his trip to Washington when Trump reiterated his stance.
A few days after the event, Trump’s adviser managed to get both leaders on a one-hour phone call. Both leaders said that the call was “productive” and that they both agreed to not discuss the wall issue publicly.
No mention of the wall project was mentioned again until Trump’s election defeat in 2020.
Example 3: My Experience With Avoidance Negotiation
Negotiation styles are a very important variable to master to achieve great deal results. Your ultimate deal will be determined by how skilled you are as a negotiator. The more skilled you are in using different styles, the more the other party will be drawn to settle close to your ideal outcome and closer to their limit.
Your selection of negotiation style should depend on your personality and the results of your earlier research on the styles that will probably be used by your counterpart. Getting to recognize the different negotiation styles will help you to negotiate way more efficiently! It’s important to know how and when to use particular styles to get more of what you want from the negotiation.
“In my time as a Procurement Manager, I had to deal with 1500 different products delivered by 70 suppliers every year. Suppliers were traditionally better equipped; most account managers that I had been dealing with, only had to focus on one customer and thus the negotiator: me. This led to what I call, the knowledge gap. They had way more time to prepare for negotiations. Most of them kept detailed notes on my negotiation style, likes and dislikes, interests, family details, and so on. In general, they were in a better position to choose the most appropriate style to approach me in the upcoming negotiation.
My advantage, on the other hand, was the fact that I was negotiating all day & year: that experience leveraged the knowledge gap mostly: I practiced a full year with changing styles & using tactics. This helped me to have one important skill in any negotiation: I was not predictable.”
Do you also want to learn to apply effective tactics yourself and become unpredictable? There are a large number of styles & tactics that you can use in negotiations! In our Certificate Program, we will teach you when which styles to use and in what way you should use them to your advantage!
Want to check out more negotiation case studies? We actually created an overview with 13 inspiring real-life negotiation examples.
Avoidance Negotiation Style – When to Use It?
Completely opposite with the compromising negotiation style where both parties aim to discuss and gain a common ground, the avoidance negotiation style is used when you’ve made a decision to ignore the negotiations completely.
Some of the instances where you can use this particular negotiation style are as follows:
- The issue being negotiated is not important at all.
- The end results of the negotiation will not be in your favor.
- You’ve lost perspective of the situation and you need to calm down and think.
- Time is needed to get accurate information about the deal.
- A team member is better at handling the negotiation.
- The issue being discussed or negotiated is a part of an even bigger negotiation.
Advantages – Avoidance Negotiation Style
Avoiding negotiations may seem like an opportunity lost. But for a seasoned negotiator or procurement manager, the avoidance negotiation style can bring a lot of advantages.
Here are some of the advantages the avoidance negotiation style can give you:
- You can invest more time in preparation by avoiding the negotiation.
- You can also gather more information during the cooldown period.
- You avoid getting pressured in the middle of a losing negotiation.
- You can also save time and effort by actually discussing the important issue during the negotiation.
- You are displaying confidence and calm by avoiding the negotiation to collect your thoughts.
Disadvantages – Avoidance Negotiation Style
The avoidance negotiation style has some distinct disadvantages. It should be practiced carefully.
By determining each of the disadvantages, the expert negotiator or procurement manager can better acknowledge what strategies he or she can use while using the avoidance negotiation style.
Here are some of the disadvantages of the avoidance negotiation style:
- If the other party is impatient or domineering, avoiding a negotiation may only seem to strengthen their claims.
- You may appear as the weaker party because you are intentionally avoiding the negotiation.
- You can’t give a creative response that may improve the negotiations.
- Your personal reputation could be damaged.
- Avoiding a negotiation is a very volatile solution and thus, it cannot be used many times in a row.
- Sometimes, avoiding a negotiation is a one-time thing. Meaning, you might not be able to negotiate anymore.
Avoidance NegotiationStrategies To Apply Yourself
Strategy 1 – Know what the issue Is
The key to using the avoidance negotiation style effectively is by knowing exactly what you’re going to negotiate for. If the issue is a major one and that it will certainly affect not just your reputation, but your business as well, then by all means carry on.
However, if the issue is minuscule and is also a lesser issue that is brought about by a separate bigger issue, then use the avoidance negotiation style to save time and effort.
Example of external avoidance:
Ralph wants to buy new printers for his office. He calls the largest printing company in town and his preference is to buy the new printers from a reliable brand. The salesman is trying to force him to buy the printers from a new brand that they are promoting.
Salesman: “This new brand is state-of-the-art and has more vibrant colors!”
Ralph: “No thanks. I’ve been using my current brand for years now and it works fine for me. Thanks for the information though.”
Strategy 2 – Be polite but firm when speaking
Avoiding a negotiation is tough on some occasions but when it has to be done, it has to be done. Therefore, if you’re going to avoid negotiation, always be polite but firm when speaking. Never make the other party feel that you are just bluffing. Stand straight, look the other party in the eye, and inform them calmly of your decision.
Example of internal avoidance:
While discussing with his team members ways to procure more tables for the office, Ralph realizes that his team members are now becoming unruly and are no longer listening to one another.
Being the team leader, Ralph calls everyone to attention.
When his team members are aware of his presence, Ralph then looks all of them in the eye and delivers the following statement with a firm voice.
Ralph: “Team, while all of your suggestions are good, discussing all of them at once is simply just wasting our time. I propose that we all cancel this discussion for now and collect our thoughts. Once everyone is ready to hear one another again, let’s hold another meeting, in which I decide at the end what our final call will be.
In summary, the avoidance negotiation style, often overshadowed by more proactive approaches, presents a strategic disengagement from direct negotiations.
Positioned at the bottom left of the negotiation styles chart, it entails a deliberate decision to step back when circumstances are unfavorable for active dialogue.
This strategy is particularly useful when the issue at hand is deemed unimportant, the results may not be favorable, a cooldown period is needed, or when a team member is better suited for negotiation.
While the avoidance style offers advantages such as time for preparation and information gathering, it carries disadvantages, including potential damage to personal reputation and limitations on its repeated use.
The key to effective implementation lies in a careful assessment of the issue at hand and a polite yet firm communication style when conveying the decision to avoid negotiation.
What is avoidance negotiation?
It is a form of negotiation where the negotiator ignores the negotiation itself.
When to use avoidance negotiation?
Avoidance negotiation is often used against an opponent that is known to use hardball tactics during negotiations.
Why would you use an avoidance negotiation style?
Avoiding negotiations is often a tactic used to give two parties time to calm down after a heated argument or negotiation.
About the author
My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.