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Negotiation Tactic #79 – Standard Practice or Policy

Summary: Using the argument that “It’s always been done this way.”

Standard Practice or Policy is a tactic used to convince a counterpart to proceed in a certain way simply because that way is “policy.” This tactic works well because it suggests that the way being proposed is the usual or customary procedure and, therefore, is probably the safest approach. The most common example is the standard contract. The party being asked to sign a standard contract will probably just assume that the contract doesn’t need to be changed. However, questioning just how “standard” a contract really is usually produces good results.

Example

Fernando is renting some office space. The landlord hands Fernando a lease to sign, saying, “It’s a standard commercial lease. Just initial it in two places and sign at the bottom.”

Counter

Fernando has several options here. Using the tactic of the Salami, he could start slicing away, ever so slightly, at what is considered “standard,” agreeing to some terms of the lease but not others. He could use the tactic of the Trade-Off Concession, agreeing to all the terms of the lease in return for one month’s free rent. He could rewrite the contract to suit his own needs. Or, utilizing the tactic These Boots Are Made for Walking, he could always leave and go rent space from someone else.

Have you used or encountered this tactic in your negotiations? If so, how’d it go?

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