“Red Flags” and “Elephants” Derail Your Negotiations!

May 18, 2016 By Irma Tyler Wood

“Red Flags and Elephants” can derail, destroy or unnecessarily prolong negotiations; so if you are aware they exist, deal with them before you get to the substance of the negotiation.  If they surprise you or arise in the middle of the negotiations, press the pause button on negotiating substance and either address them immediately or agree on a time when you will address them. 

What Are, “Red Flags and Elephants?”

In negotiation, the term “Red Flag,” refers to issues, behaviors or words that evoke strong emotion in one or more of the parties to a negotiation.  Once strong emotions are engendered you’ve literally pressed the brain’s “fight” or “flight” button.  When that happens the logical part of the brain shuts down.  Brilliant options or logical arguments will not get through and will not influence the person having the, “Red Flag,” moment.  The term, “Elephants,” in a negotiation refers to historical events, actions or words from the past that are still impacting what is going on in the current negotiation, although no one will acknowledge that fact for fear of conflict, anger and damaged relationships. 

Parties to a negotiation who had spent two and a half years unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a contract were able to reach agreement in only five days, after we spent a day with them unpacking “Elephants” and dealing with “Red Flags.”  Another client who felt he, “didn’t have time for all of that touchy feely stuff,” was able to repair critical relationships after learning how to deal with “Red Flags and Elephants.” 

For a step-by-step explanation read our “Red Flag and Elephant Rule” description. If there is no trust, respect or ability to communicate about “Red Flags” or “Elephants,” contact us at info@kithoughtbridge.com or 317-822-8205.