Negotiation Tactic #46 – Electronic Shark in the Moat

Summary: Stalling a negotiation by creating the perception one is too busy to respond to a counterpart’s request.

To be an effective negotiator, you need access to the person who has the knowledge and ability to negotiate. Many years ago, secretaries played the role of Shark in the Moat, letting only a few, select people have contact with their bosses. Today we are more technologically advanced – we have Electronic Sharks in the Moat such as caller ID, voicemail, and email. It’s difficult to negotiate when you can’t get past someone’s electronic shark. Some negotiators use this tactic to their advantage.


A commercial real estate professional is trying to secure an appointment with a corporate executive. No matter how many times the real estate professional calls, he constantly reaches the executive’s email or voicemail, and the executive herself, or the secretary, calls back at odd hours and leaves a voicemail or an email in response. Although the responses give the real estate professional hope of an actual meeting, the Electronic Shark in the Moat is very effective at keeping a distance between the two counterparts.


The real estate professional could try calling very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon when there is less chance that the Electronic Shark in the Moat is on duty. A second tactic is to utilize Find Us an Umpire (either within or outside the executive’s company) to help bring the two people together.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Popular on the blog
beyond-engagement-cover_184x228Free White Paper Beyond Engagement:  8 Proven Strategies to Workplace Excellence

Learn how your organization can achieve results through Workplace Excellence

Download Now

The Manager's Toolkit

The Manager's Toolkit is the one stop action planning website for becoming an even stronger, more effective leader. Managers will read recommendations, related articles, suggested actions, and watch informative videos that will guide them through improving their leadership skills.

Client LoginLearn More