Negotiation Tactic #89 – The Ambush

Summary: Outnumbering the opposition.

Showing up to a negotiation unexpectedly and in large numbers can have tremendous impact.


A developer goes before the city council to try to get approval for a project. Much to the developer’s surprise, over 200 citizens show up to oppose the project.


Advance preparation would have made a counter unnecessary in this situation. If the developer had been well prepared, he would have had some idea of the magnitude of his opposition.

Once The Ambush has taken place, the developer might request a postponement in the negotiation for time to regroup and decide on a new strategy. If the developer doesn’t want to postpone, or fails to obtain a postponement, his next option is to try to sell the decision makers on the benefits of his project. He could talk about the number of people his development would employ and the number of tax dollars the project would generate for the city, as well as express his willingness to work with a citizens’ advisory group made up of some of the people who oppose the project.

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

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