Name: Fait Accompli
Pulled the trigger, Done deal, Surprise attack
When one side takes a unilateral action that the other side thought they were negotiating.
Take it or leave it, Now or never, Press Release
The ultimate power play. The other side accepts or withdraws. Accepting means you accept his powerful position.
Super competitive – but also avoiding. He is doing what he wants and not even engaging with the other side to justify or explain. That will come later – after he has already acted.
Your only power move now is to refuse the arrangement and walk away from the negotiation – forever in conflict with the stronger side. Think first, then talk. Breathe. Don’t get emotional and say something you’ll regret for a long time.
Fait Accompli is when someone informs you of a decision or action – but you expected to have influence over the outcome. You are not in the decision-making unit you thought you were. It’s insulting, frustrating, and often more than a little intimidating. It’s supposed to be.
Think about a missile test or surprise partnership announcement. The negotiation is over – if it had ever begun. The fait accompli announcement is your only involvement – you have been informed, not included.
The point of this move is to cut someone out of the loop and assert power & authority. It lowers the counter-party’s status and puts you on notice that you don’t have control over the future of this relationship.
Fait Accompli works best on a mass scale when there is a significant power imbalance. Large companies change rates, membership controls, service levels – even entire business models - and it is up to the counterparty to accept or look for other options. The deed is done – all you have to decide is if you’ll stay or go.
Individual negotiators can use Fait Accompli to apply pressure or speed up the decision-making process. CEOs are thrilled to announce a new partnership when they return from an overseas trip, and now it is up to the organization to make it happen – and the Board of Directors to accept the move or fire the CEO. Purchasing managers can announce to an intransigent supplier that they’ve already given the order to someone else; Department Heads can inform HR that they’ve already hired a key position from the outside; Sales Managers write a new quota on a whiteboard. This is a move you’ve seen – but because the tactic kills all further negotiation, you may have overlooked it.
Fait Accompli is the opposite of a threat. When you threaten someone, you say, “If you don’t do as I wish, I will make you suffer.” Fait Accompli turns that on it’s head. “I have already made you suffer, now do as I wish”.
If you can’t guess, this is not a great relationship builder.
Should you use Fait Accompli as a negotiating tactic? Sometimes you have to – especially when you are changing counter-parties or partners. Sometimes it is expedient – like when you are making decision for your department or team and you really DO NOT want their input. But you have to remember that Fait Accompli is a relationship-killer. Many people use this tactic specifically because they want to get out of a partnership.
The risk of Fait Accompli is that someone will use it on you and you will react emotionally. Remember our basic rule – think first, then talk. When someone has just dropped a Fait Accompli on your head, which can be tough to remember. But the reason someone uses this tactic is because they don’t think you have options – or don’t care what you do. Don’t make your situation even worse by reacting blindly without lining up alternatives.