From a negotiator’s point of view, it often doesn’t pay to worry too much about the motives for another person’s tactics. What may seem almost evil may be a product of poor team dynamics or lousy decision making. That isn’t to say that someone with a gun isn’t out to kill you; it’s just that you should make judgments about someone’s moral fiber and its relevance to the negotiations very warily.
Look, if you do think someone’s out to screw you, go to the ninja’s right away—Plan B is always in order. It’s just that more often than not, the other guy really isn’t out to screw you at all.
Let’s turn the old bait and switch around for a second. A customer comes into a Chevy dealership and says he wants to buy a Malibu. Salesman starts working out the deal, gets a good price down, and then all of a sudden the customer says, “Gee, I’d like an Impala instead.”
Ploy? Change of heart?
Does it matter? The salesman has already learned a lot about the customer, certainly more than if the customer had just walked in. The customer is saying that he wants a deal—just not the one they’ve been talking about.
The salesman should take a step back and ask the customer to clarify what he wants, realizing that he’s not yet at the point where he can negotiate. Once the customer’s needs are established—once the intelligence is done—he can get back to the negotiating stage and have a real leg up, since he’s already built a rapport.