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Tactical Tuesday:  Fait Accompli

Posted by Andrew Hupert on Feb 14, 2017 11:34:13 AM

Name:  Fait Accompli

Orders.jpgAka:

Pulled the trigger, Done deal, Surprise attack

Description:

When one side takes a unilateral action that the other side thought they were negotiating.

Related:

Take it or leave it, Now or never, Press Release 

Intent:

The ultimate power play. The other side accepts or withdraws. Accepting means you accept his powerful position.

Style:

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.

810-6760-301.jpgCounters:

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.

 

FlashMBA's Negotiators Toolkit 

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.

a-vcm_s_kf_repr_512x768 (24).jpgThe 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.

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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.  

yeller.jpgThe 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.

 

FlashMBA's Negotiators Toolkit

How to Negotiate for Millennials - the Negotiator's Toolkit ebook

Written by Andrew Hupert

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