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Closing A Deadlocked Deal


One of the most challenging situations in negotiations is when both parties reach an impasse. The previous, well-thought-out plans and strategies were tried and failed, morale is at its lowest, and the participants may have withdrawn from the process. What can be done to close a deadlocked deal?

The following information may help break through the paralysis and return all parties to the bargaining table. After all, the worst outcome is no outcome.

Recognise Problems As Opportunities.

Look at the deliberations as an on-going conversation that is fluid rather than locking into preconceived outcomes. Problems that arise are opportunities to adjust your tactics and learn more about your counterparts without making concessions. As you continue the talks, you will be better able to distinguish the conflicts that are negotiable from those that are not. If leverage has changed, adapt accordingly.

What’s important to the other person should be more evident at this point, so re-evaluate and include a range of solutions to satisfy those needs. Listen to their input, and discuss how and when settlements will be implemented. Be prepared if one solution is turned down, to put forth an alternative.

Propose Options Mutually Beneficial to Both Parties.

If you want to be able to propose a package that they will accept, keep in mind the other person’s options, needs, and wants. It’s called BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).

Tensions are at their highest, so maintain your confidence and professional manner to build on or re-establish trust. Utilize facts and fairness to present your case.

Search for Alternatives to Break the Deadlock.

“Negotiations take place inside the other party’s head, not yours.” – Vladislav Andreev from The Negotiation Society.

  • Some choices might have appeared unlikely in the beginning, but in a deadlocked deal may now seem more acceptable.
  • Remember, you are searching for an approach that results in a confluence of ideas.
  • Reiterate what is common ground and build on that.
  • New participants may bring new ideas and fresh eyes to the proceedings.
  • The same principles apply in all types of negotiations, large and small. See Brexit Negotiations.


You’ve reached a deadlock, but the good news is– It’s not over. Incorporate the newly acquired information from the previous business negotiations and adjust your plan. You may now enter into the renewed talks with a genuine desire to look at all points of view and reach an agreement both parties can accept.

Display an earnest openness towards their viewpoints, treat everyone with respect, and lead your counterparts into a productive discussion. Consider at all times how you will be perceived and try to keep several moves ahead. Remember, you’re choosing to be positive while still moving your objectives forward. Stay focused on the process.

Sometimes a negotiator decides failure isn’t an option despite the adversities and setbacks, and this extra perseverance is what it takes to form a consensus and reach an agreement.