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  • Jharna Jagtiani

Navigating Choppy Waters: Strategies for Maintaining Composure in Negotiations Amidst Unexpected Obstacles

Learn from Mahindra-SsangYong: Navigate unexpected obstacles with adaptability, open communication, and a solutions mindset for success.

Negotiations are seldom smooth sailing, and unexpected obstacles can emerge at any stage. The ability to stay calm and focused in the face of such challenges is crucial for successful outcomes. This article explores strategies for dealing with unexpected obstacles in negotiations, with insights drawn from a relevant Indian case study.

Understanding Unexpected Obstacles:

  1. Identifying Common Obstacles: Unexpected obstacles can manifest in various forms, including sudden changes in the negotiating team, unforeseen economic shifts, or new regulatory constraints. Recognizing these challenges is the first step toward effective resolution.

  2. Impact on Emotions: Unexpected obstacles can evoke strong emotions, potentially leading to stress and anxiety. Managing emotions is essential for maintaining a rational and strategic approach to problem-solving.

Strategies for Staying Calm and Focused:

  1. Pause and Assess: When faced with an unexpected obstacle, resist the urge to react impulsively. Take a moment to pause, assess the situation, and understand the implications of the obstacle on the negotiation process.

  2. Maintain Open Communication: Transparent communication is crucial during times of uncertainty. Keep all parties informed about the obstacle, its potential impact, and the steps being taken to address it. Open communication fosters trust and collaboration.

  3. Adaptability and Flexibility: Negotiators must be adaptable and flexible in their approach. Unexpected obstacles often require a shift in strategies or the exploration of alternative solutions. Embrace change and be open to new possibilities.

  4. Focus on Solutions, Not Blame: Rather than assigning blame, direct energy towards finding solutions. A problem-solving mindset encourages collaboration and constructive dialogue, turning obstacles into opportunities for innovative resolutions.

Case Study: Mahindra and Mahindra's Acquisition of SsangYong (2010)

The acquisition of the South Korean automaker SsangYong by India's Mahindra and Mahindra in 2010 provides insights into dealing with unexpected obstacles.

  1. Economic Downturn: During the negotiation process, a global economic downturn presented an unexpected obstacle. Mahindra and Mahindra had to reassess the financial aspects of the deal in light of the economic challenges.

  2. Strategic Adaptation: Mahindra and Mahindra demonstrated strategic adaptation by re-evaluating the financial terms and restructuring the deal to align with the economic realities. This adaptability allowed them to navigate the obstacle and proceed with the acquisition.

  3. Open Communication: Throughout the process, Mahindra and Mahindra maintained open communication with all stakeholders. Clear communication about the economic challenges, the revised terms, and the rationale behind the changes helped manage expectations and build trust.

  4. Focus on Long-Term Goals: Instead of being derailed by economic obstacles, Mahindra and Mahindra maintained a focus on the long-term strategic goals of the acquisition. This forward-looking perspective helped them persevere through the challenges.


Dealing with unexpected obstacles in negotiations is an inevitable part of the process. The Mahindra and Mahindra case exemplifies the importance of adaptability, open communication, and a solutions-oriented mindset when faced with unexpected challenges. By incorporating these strategies, negotiators can weather the storms that arise during negotiations, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and success.


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