Target Point vs. Resistance Point in Negotiation

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  • 0:03 Negotiation: Targets…
  • 1:42 Keep It Close to the Vest
  • 2:26 The BATNA
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

In negotiation, we often keep our true limits close to the vest. In this lesson, we will discuss target and resistance points in negotiation, why they are kept from both parties, and why they are considered with care before negotiation begins.

Negotiation: Targets and Aspirations

Whether you are negotiating the sale of a house, a car, or a huge business deal, there are key components and features of negotiating that are at play. We'll be focusing on target points and resistance points in this lesson, and how they are important in the negotiating process.

A target point, or aspiration, is the actual goal that you are trying to reach. For example, your aspiration is to purchase a house for $150,000 or less. However, the seller's aspiration point might be to sell the house for $175,000. Now, these are the aspirations. However, there are actually points outside of these bounds.

A resistance point or bottom line, are the points below and above these points. Beyond these points is an empty void‐at this point, the deal is cancelled.

Let's take a look at a graphical representation to highlight these forces at work: In this image, the solid stop signs are the absolute resistance points, while the shaded signs indicate the perceived range between buyer and seller.

Target and Resistance Points

While the seller is really willing to offer a much lower price, she conveys the $17,500 as her absolute limit. At the same time, the buyer says he will only pay $20,900, but is willing to go as high as $22,500.

Usually the buyer is not willing to pay as much as the seller wants to sell for. As a rule, the target points don't have any overlap. However, there is a place where bargaining can take place, called the bargaining zone. The bargaining zone is the room between the resistance points in which the bargaining will occur.

Keep It Close to the Vest

Both parties keep these limits close to the vest. As we saw in the graphic, there is quite a bit of room between perception and the real resistance points. However, when going into negotiations, do not reveal your target or resistance points: The other party will know exactly how far to push you, and they will push you right up to the limit.

However, you should still try to figure out the other party's aspirations (or target points) and their resistance points (or bottom line)! It is like chess in a way: You want to be able to see several moves ahead but not telegraph any of your own potential moves. Many times you can research your chosen market (such as housing or the automobile market) to get an idea of what the other party's resistance and target points are.

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