Everyone has their own ways of handling high-stress and high-pressure situations, and negotiators often employ manipulative tactics to gain the upper hand. Don’t let them!
Your opposition may feign offense or indignation at your offer, as if it is far below a reasonable expectation. If you know your offer is fair, it’s important to stand your ground and start a dialog about what the opposition thinks is unreasonable. If there is no acceptable, logical answer, your opponent may be trying to bait you into making a lowball offer.
You may encounter a good cop/bad cop routine. One member of the opposition may seem to be on your side and on board with an offer, while another seems inordinately opposed to it. This tactic is meant to encourage you to compromise. Be wary.
Sometimes, you may see emotional outbursts that are meant to make you uncomfortable and speed you toward an immediate agreement for the sake of social propriety. While you may be tempted to give in, your best response to any outrageous emotional behavior is silence: Wait for the display to end and carry on professionally.
A red herring tactic is one where the opposition will bring up a completely unrelated topic to derail a conversation. Saying the topic has nothing to do with the issue at hand may make you look aggressive. Instead, shelve the topic until you finish handling the important issues.
The opposition may sometimes try to bombard you with data that appears to support their position but is nothing more than a distraction. Once you realize this, ask what specifically this information has to do with the conversation at hand.
Refusals and Walkouts
In extreme cases, the opposition may attempt to stonewall you with a negotiator who absolutely will not budge on any issue. Don’t be afraid to ask for a new representative. The opposition may also demand an immediate resolution and threaten to leave if you don’t acquiesce. The best thing to do in this situation is to let them leave. More often than not, they’re trying to gain the upper hand by forcing you to make a play. The best play you can make is to show them that you’re not interested in working with someone who is willing to walk out on a deal. If they need the business, they’ll change their tune.
These may be some extreme examples, but every negotiator is going to resort to some tactics to get the best deal for their side of the table. While you may be tempted to resort to some of the sleazier tactics (especially when you’re sure they’ll have the desired effects), it’s important to maintain the high road and represent your company with integrity, honor, and grace.