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Ever Been Played?

Ever felt like you’ve been played? As though you’ve never really been in control from the start? Maybe you were subjected to some effective pre-conditioning.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

It is one of the most easily over-looked yet powerful aspects of negotiation. If you anticipate some resistance from the other party to what you are going to propose or suggest, then you need to do some pre-conditioning in advance.

The EU have today announced some ‘clues ahead of talks with the UK’. For this, read ‘preconditioning’

If done effectively then the other party (in this case the UK) will start to become anchored to what is being pre-conditioned. It may be subtle or it may not, but either way it can be highly effective.

If you want to try some pre-conditioning before your next negotiation, bear some of these pointers  in mind:

  • Do it well in advance. Give your message time to sink in.
  • Use different media. You can email them supporting data, or do it informally in a social setting. Alternatively at the end of a meeting you can say on the way out ‘by the way did I mention that we are doing a pricing review at the moment…?’
  • Make sure they don’t recognise it as pre-conditioning. The EU have called it ‘clues’ for a reason.
  • Don’t worry if they take issue with what you are saying or reject it – it will still have got them thinking about the point that you want to make. You can then demonstrate flexibility in the ensuing negotiation.

Give it a go – let me know how you get on.


brexit, EU, negotiation, Preconditioning

Dan Hughes

He has specialised in negotiation consulting since 2005, and set up his own business in 2012 bringing this expertise to businesses small and large in all parts of the world. This company - bridge][ability ltd - runs behavioural and strategic planning negotiation skills programs which transform capabilities and has a client list which includes Tesco, The FA, Fujitsu, Capita, Reiss, Take 2 Interactive (the company behind Grand Theft Auto), BBC Worldwide and Channel 4.