We all learn social norms as we grow up: the rules of how to engage and communicate with people. Some of us are arguably better communicators than others — for example, people with natural charisma and confidence tend to break the ice and make others feel at ease in new situations. Good listeners who ask lots of questions make for excellent dinner party guests. It’s a natural human instinct to make connections and be liked. So, for many of us, it can feel especially unnatural to abandon social norms at the negotiating table. When faced with aggressive negotiation tactics, it can be a real shock to the system and can be inherently destabilising.
But the good news is, there are ways you can prepare and rebuke this kind of negotiation technique, without feeling like you have to morph into a cast member of Succession. The cut-throat world depicted in the TV show might be fictional, but there’s no doubt that some hardened negotiators do indeed employ some ferocious techniques to drive their side of the bargain.
In this article, we’ll dig into some of these aggressive negotiation techniques, how to be prepared for them, and how to respond to them without losing your head.
What are some examples of aggressive negotiation tactics?
Aggressive negotiation tactics include:
All of these techniques are carefully designed by some trained negotiators to get an emotional reaction from you. Emotions will derail you at the negotiating table and enable your counterparty to claim more value.
So what should you do about these aggressive negotiation tactics when they happen to you?
A lot of the time, you can address aggressive negotiation techniques simply by demonstrating that you know what they’re doing and using countering or disarming techniques. Once people have been found out once, they’re less likely to try it again.
One thing that definitely helps is “naming the game”. Even if you only do this in your mind, recognising and acknowledging their behaviour for what it is — a tactic — will help reduce the anxiety that it can cause.
Let’s get into some practical examples of how to counter some of these tactics:
There are many other ways to deal with these aggressive negotiation tactics. Hopefully, these illustrations start to show you how to get things back on track.
How can you prepare in advance to counteract these aggressive negotiation tactics?
In our extensive experience as buyers, negotiation trainers and negotiation deal coaches, the critical thing you need is a rigorous, easy to follow, step-by-step process and templates. This will help you stay focused, reduce anxiety and emotions, and ultimately get you a better deal.
- Start with writing down the context of the deal. Include the goals (yours and theirs) and the objective criteria by which you propose that a negotiated deal can be agreed upon. Also, now is the time to prepare your BATNA
- Work out the stages of this negotiation and ideal timelines.
- Decide on your negotiation variables and your acceptable upper and lower limits.
- Make sure you keep track of issues as they come up and how you’re going to resolve them.
Start with the tangible value that you’ll be creating, then compare that to the price and hence the ROI. Prepare your negotiation strategy using a process, templates and checklists. They will have prepared their negotiation strategy, you must do the same.
This is exactly why we wrote the Higgle Book; it’s a step-by-step guide of proven negotiation templates that will help you prepare for every deal, no matter how big or small.
There are two big lessons to be learnt:
- You have to spot the aggressive negotiator at their game and point it out to them, professionally. Confronting the behaviour can be tough, but you can choose to be subtle. If you don’t want to call it out upfront, you could simply ask them to repeat themselves — because you surely can’t have heard them correctly.
- “The prepared mind wins the day”. Consistent application of a step-by-step process and templates will prepare your mind for a successful, more rational negotiation.
Alternatively, you could decide to act more like Logan Roy, but we wouldn’t recommend it!
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