How To Break Negotiation Deadlock



If you are one of the 500,000 commuters who have been affected by Southern Rail’s nine month dispute with the Driver’s Union ASLEF, you are no doubt hoping against hope that today’s face-to-face talks will finally end the negotiation deadlock.

We all know that when emotions are running high, it’s very easy for negotiations to become heated, causing one party or the other to walk away from the table. So what steps should both parties take to make sure they negotiate successfully and break the deadlock?


How To Break Negotiation Deadlock:


Before the re-match:

While you are away from the table you need to be creative about how you will break the deadlock. More often than not, the deadlock has been caused because there is no overlap in positions. So one of the main ways to move the conversation forward is to think creatively about any new variables you can bring to the table for both you and your counterpart.


Coming to the table

Be clear in your mind what the end game is so you don’t just focus on the negotiation itself. You need to adopt a winning mindset when you come to the table, but also believe that you can reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties. This will help you resist the temptation to put up barriers or throw in unnecessary curve balls that back the other party into a corner.


During the re-negotiations

There is often a huge amount of pressure to break deadlock but don’t be in a rush to reach closure. Call time outs when you need them – they are a powerful way of helping you gather your thoughts, change the mood of the negotiations or prepare a fresh proposal. Draw on your emotional resilience to keep up the momentum. The most successful negotiators are able to bounce back from setbacks, by taking the learnings and moving forward.


Finally and most importantly, remember communication and the art of trading are the most powerful ways of breaking deadlock. So Southern Rail and ASLEF, take heed of Churchill’s wise words and remember – “jaw-jaw is always better than war-war”.




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