Negotiation Power Tactics: 28 Techniques You Must be Aware Of

Topic
Curriculum

Power is crucial in negotiations because, as research shows, negotiators with more power get more concessions and weaker negotiators give more concessions.

This lesson is here to warn you of the manipulative techniques that some of the most experienced (and unscrupulous) negotiators might use against you.

In negotiation always watch out for parties whose interest align

1. Start With Big Demands (“Anchoring”)

Power movers will often start with crazy high demands -or very low offers- to set an anchor.

An anchor works like a reference point.
When there are still no numbers on the table -and in our minds- the first number, even if unrealistic, will be our first (mental) reference point.

Say for example you get fired.

And instead of offering a monetary compensation, your employer picks an issue you had at work and says “about the issue with the McKenzie brief…. HR wanted to sue you for the full 70.000 USD in reparation”.

They let it marinate for a while and after a while they will offer you to go “scot-free”.
Since the anchor starts at -70k, you feel lucky to go without any monetary fine. Let alone asking for severance or causing any trouble.
Without the anchor, you might have asked for compensation instead.

An anchor has two advantages for the power mover:

1. High reference points means they end up closer to their original goal
2. They will seem more cooperative when they will make concessions

Solution:

When they come up with their big number, flinch. Or laugh as if they were joking: dismiss it with both body language and words.

If they need you more than you need them, say this: “if that’s your approach to negotiation we can end it right here, right now”. Then pause, let them defend, then lay out what your terms are. Now you’re the leader.

If you’re an experienced negotiation, you can simply stay nonreactive and make a mental note that you are dealing with people who will be playing games and trying to screw you over.

2. Feign Disappointment

Power negotiators will purposefully act disappointed during negotiations.
Studies show that looking disappointed is likely to decrease your demands and increase the size of your concessions because you unconsciously feel like you need to give more to re-balance the relationship.

And when you make an offer and like they don’t like your offer even they are very happy.

They do it for two reasons:

1. They can get even happier by faking unhappy and asking for more
2. If they look happy you might decrease your offer or think twice about it

This is especially important on the first offer. As a matter of fact, power movers rarely take the first offer at all.

Solution:

When they play unhappy, it’s usually a good idea not to give in at first. Tell them that unluckily the offer is already so good, that there is not so much room for negotiation.

Alternatively, you can use the “higher authority” here -more on it later-. Such as, if they tell you exactly what they’re looking for, you might take it to your guys and see what they say. But it might still be a good idea to say that this is such a good offer, that you don’t think they will yield much -if anything-.

2.2. Never Look Happy

Similarly, try never to look surprised about good offers. When you do, it immediately lowers your market value.
This is true both in negotiations, job interviews and dating.
Not purely a negotiation, but the concept is the same:

3. Flinch At Their First Number

Power movers can sometimes “jump” at your first ask price or offer.
That’s the flinch.

It’s a strong nonverbal reaction that communicates “what the heck, come down from that crazy position”.
But it’s much more powerful when it’s nonverbal, and that’s why they use the flinch.

Solution:

Do NOT renege your first offer right away after their flinch or they will have you. Instead, ask what they had in mind, then flinch back.

4. Say: “You’ll have to do better than that

Simple technique, just say:

You’ll have to do better than that

Then stay silent and let them make a concession.

Solution:

When a power mover tells you “you’ll have to do better than that”, don’t make a concession right away but let them commit first by saying “how much better exactly”.

5. Say: “Don’t Be So Defensive

This is a sneaky psychological trick leveraging inverse psychology (we will see more of it in the last module).

When sneaky negotiators realize you are distrusting or pushing back, they will tell you not to be so defensive and then maybe crack a joke to relax you.

For example:

Shark: Max! You are being so defensive! Relax my friend, we’re just discussing a deal and it’s looking like a great deal for you.
You are basically going to bankrupt us like this unless we can manage to get something more out of that defensive fortress of yours!

That’s a fake release of tension.
When you accept that tension release and laugh, you are also buying into their frame that the negotiation is going great for you and you need to make more concessions.

Solution:

Don’t defend by saying you’re not defensive.

If you answer seriously to that sentence, psychologically, you might be pushed into acting more open and trustworthy just to prove them wrong. Instead, say something like:

You: the way you’re dealing with me is causing me to be defensive. And if you want to look into that, I’ll tell you exactly why… “.

Now you’re taking the lead role.

You can always reply with a joke, like:

You: don’t worry mate, since we’re such good friends if things go south for you, you’re always welcome to sleep over at my place. You cook though

6. Set Up A (Fake) Higher Authority

You always know you’re dealing with a clueless, ego-driven muppet when they present themselves as the final authority.

When a sales manager, for example, says he has “latitude for deciding on price”, you know he has little to no power.

The real power negotiators instead like to present themselves in the guise of a lamb.
They actively pretend they can’t make the final decision by themselves, and they say they need approval from a higher authority above them.

Then they can leverage that (non-existing) higher authority for all sorts of games -including a possible good cop/bad cop-.

A fictitious higher authority affords several advantages, including:

1. Allows to delay the negotiation by saying they need to ask their people
2. Allows to be tough without looking nasty (they’d be nice if they could, but the higher authority doesn’ allow them)
3. Allows to play the “last-minute concession game” (keep reading)

Solution:

1. pretend you believe him and make a mental check-mark of the game he’s playing;

2. say “oh come on, you’re not playing good cop/bad cop with me are you”;

3. say “OK, and when do your people meet? I’d love to come by and speak with them too”;

4. say “ah please, you’re the expert/director/boss, those guys must always be following your decisions don’t they”

7. Wrestle Last-Minute Concessions With Fake Higher-Authority Rejection

98 times out of a 100 a last-minute “problem” to get a last-minute concession is a manipulative negotiation tactic.

They might, for example, OK the transaction and tell you they “just need the final approval from the board” (the board is the possibly fake higher authority).
Then they come back to you say the board is being difficult and they asked for a further concession.

Solution:

when they get back to you with the higher authority game tell them you also need to speak to your people / think it over.
Then get back to them asking for another concession back.

And if they need you more than you need them, you can risk a big power play here. Tell them that your higher authority said that your initial terms are too good now and that your price has increased because of unexpectedly high demand.
You can’t stick anymore to the initial deal and now you need to ask for a 10% more.

8. Get Counter-Concessions For Any Concession

Power Movers rarely give something without getting something back.

If you give a concession but ask for nothing back, your risk that the new deal becomes the new baseline -which is worse off for you-.
And with sharks, it’s hard to ask for a concession later on because your concession has become “a thing of the past”. They will tell you that you already dealt with it and it was just fair of you to give.

Avoid being in that situation: when dealing with power movers a concession begets a concession.

Solution:

If they are trying to get a concession out of you for everything you demand, say you are only asking for what’s fair while they’re being unfair by asking for extras that are not standard in your type of deal.

You can say that you have been in business for a while and you know what’s “normal” and “not normal”, thus positioning yourself as the judge and authority.

You can also try to put them on the defensive by saying that your goal is a win-win deal and you feel they are instead negotiating for win-lose. The worst sharks will not fall for this last one but it’s worth trying: at the very worst you will test their mettle.

9. Play Good Cop / Bad Cop

Here are a few scenarios of good cop / bad cop:

1. One plays strict, the other seems more on your side
2. One gets angry and leaves the room while the other one plays friendly
3. He says he would give it to you it but his people don’t allow

Solution:

Prepare your own bad cop.
Or pretend you’re falling for it and use it to your advantage to see what they propose / offer. When the good cop proposes a deal, you will know what’s a good deal for them and you will know what you must not accept.

10. Let Them Come to Your Lair

If you can avoid, don’t go to their place or office.

Going to their office is an implied statement that they have more power.

Also, people meeting on their own turf feel more powerful and secure, while you feel less powerful and secure. That will give them an unfair advantage.

Also if you go to their office pay attention to the lowest, crudest types of power moves such as making you wait, making you sit in the lowest chair, or positioning you in the most uncomfortable seat.

In the first draft this section was called “logistics power moves” because the same that applies to location also applies to time.
If you meet at their convenience, or if they tell you the time, they have more power.

Solution:

counter-propose your location or say it’s fair to meet middle way. Never say your calendar is always open and try not to chase them for the meet.

To avoid making it sound like you’re playing power moves, say:

I wish I could man, I’d love to see your office.
Truly I’m busy / too far away though. How about we meet middle way at…

11. Show Up With More People

When they arrive at the meeting with more people than you thought, it might be an attempt to make you feel powerless through numbers.

Especially if they sit all together on one side of the table or, even worst, they sit around you, they are going for an antagonistic frame of “us, many VS you, alone”.

But also watch out if one sits near you as that might be the game plan of playing bad cop (in front of you) and good cop (beside you).

Solution:

Tell them:

You: I was expecting to see you, Mark, why did you come with two friends
Power Player: They are also interested and they were free, so here we are, let’s sit down now, shall we
You: Look, instead of playing negotiation games, I’d rather find a win-win approach, fair enough?

If you are feeling  particularly bold and you know for sure there is no point for more people to be involved, this can also be a valid approach:

You: look, I have been in touch with you Mark, and if you don’t mind I prefer speaking with just one person. The more we are, the more complicated it gets.
(looking at the extra people)
I know a wonderful restaurant I can recommend to you guys

12. Nibbling: Get The Last Drops, Before the Champagne Pops

You know the feeling when you are nearing a solution and signature time is coming?

Finally, you can release the tension, sit back, chill… And maybe go with the guys for a beer.

That’s when you let down your guard and start looking forward to finally wrapping things up, and maybe celebrate.

And it’s right there and then that the most manipulative negotiators will try to squeeze the last drops.

They might say:

Power Player: oh, by the way, you will repaint the walls before leaving right?

If you say “no” or that it’s not the time to add any more clause, they might try to make it look like it was “obvious” that you had to do that.
For example:

Power Player: oh come on man, we didn’t discuss it because it’s standard procedure, everyone does it.

I have no words to express how much I hate this game and the people engaging in it.

Solution:

There are several ways you can counteract this highly manipulative negotiation technique.
For example:

You: Not true at all, you say everyone, but everyone who?
Where I come from nobody does and nobody asks for it. So don’t be a Grinch now that we’re almost done.

Or:

2. Ask for something you also wanted;
3. Smile as if they were joking;
4. Tell them they’re getting an awesome deal as it is and that’s it;
5.Tell them that after that dirty power move the lunch right after the signature is on them. But if they hurry to sign you’ll be nice enough to still toast with them. Then smile and wait

13. Say: “Let’s Avoid Games, What’s Your Bottom Line?

Some negotiators show up saying they are about to go ahead with a competitor of yours.

But before signing with that other vendor, they’ll come to you and “give you a last-minute chance” by saying:

“Could you give me your absolute bottom line?”

They frame it as if they don’t have time, so you can give them your best offer and maybe snatch a customer away from your competitor.

But often, there was no other competitor they were just about to sign with.
This is often a power move to get straight to your minimum so that they can negotiate from a position of power.

A similar technique is to pretend that they don’t want to play any games, so you can just give them your best offer, and you will both save time and effort.

Solution:

1. tell them the price tag is already super attractive;
2. tell them you are also about to sign and if they want your service they should hurry at the offered price;
3. give them a price which is very near the price tag.

14. Cherry Pick From Different Vendors

Cherry picking means asking several vendors for their prices, then trying to mix and match the final product with whatever pieces they liked and costed less.

Solution:

Stop your prospect by telling them they can save time because your services are the best (and then show your knowledge by telling them about other providers).

15. Time Pressure

If you are the one with less power in the negotiation -or the one who needs the deal the most-, don’t reveal your deadline.
If you do, you can expect the sharks to drive you right against your deadline to put you in an even weaker position.

16. Last Minute Problems

The worst sharks will string you along until the end of the negotiation. And then they will come up with a problem they had “failed to notice” just when you’re in front of the notary.

At that point they will try to get one (big) concession from you.

Solution:

1. tell them the issue is already priced in;
2. if you want to try to avoid an escalation, tell them that if they drop the games lunch is on you right after the signature (then it’s in your rights not to keep your word with such a power mover). It’s important here that you say “games”, otherwise your olive branch might be seen as weakness.

17. Inflate Demand

Some sellers might schedule a meeting with you and then squeeze more prospects either during the meeting or right before and after.

They are trying to show off -or fabricate- high demand for their product and instigate competitive bidding.

Solution:

Ignore the others -might be window shoppers or stooges as far as you know- and keep negotiating as you normally would have.

18. One-Liners

Some people will reply with single lines of text when you turn down their offers, and sometimes you can see it in dating too.

The aim here is to induce some guilt in you so that you will write them back with a concession.

This is similar to what this lady tried to do with me.
She sent a very short message to minimize her investment. Then she put a hot picture on her profile with the goal of having me give up all my power and chase after me in spite of her low effort.
See the case study here.

Solution:

Don’t fall for it. Let it die, don’t write back or write a one-liner back.

19. Moving Past Negotiations (“Fait Accompli”)

A typical sales technique is that of assuming the sale.

It consists of moving past the negotiation phase by starting to talk about the details of the service or product instead of the details of the deal.

Example:

When would you like to move in

Can you start tomorrow

Watch out for this sneaky technique because when you move past the negotiation it can easily give an unfair advantage to the shark.
What happens is that you commit, you put other alternatives in the back-burner and you mentally start convincing yourself the deal is done and a good (cognitive dissonance).
And at that point you will negotiate with less power and resolve.

Look at this real-life example:

Example of manipulative negotiation technique in email

Watch this:
We hadn’t even truly talked compensation and he’s jumping to “starting right away”.
Then he tries to make me go to their place at their time and takes for granted I’m cool with everything. And even adds the busy power move -“unfortunately can’t earlier“- without considering my schedule.
You can imagine how I felt about him.
The problem of using so many power moves is that they can easily backfire: I immediately wrote this guy off.

Solution:

If you’re interested in their offer don’t play offended and don’t say you haven’t decided yet because you don’t want risk souring the relationship with a possible employer.

I recommend you say something like this: “yeah I look forward to it, but before we get there I would like to focus on the details of the deal here. We were talking about…

Alternatively, if you got leverage, you can go to the high-risk counter-power move, which is to refuse.
Refuse, but leave that door ajar, just enough for them to change tune and “try to change your mind”, which will turn the tables and give you all the power.

A bit like this:

example to negotiate with power

And look at how that changed the tune:

What a swift, U-turn eh?
Now with that, all the power is on my side.
But of course, he had already burned himself and I never replied.

20. Bursts of Anger: The Intimidatory Negotiation

Studies show that bursts of anger can provide more concessions to the angry yeller.

This works especially for negotiators who are more powerful than their victims.
When powerful negotiators get angry, the less powerful party demands less value regardless of the appropriateness of the expressions of anger (Van Kleef, 2007).

Bursts of anger work in two different ways.
In part, it works as a judge power move, similar to acting disappointed. When someone gets angry, we feel that the relationship is unbalanced and we must give to rebalance it.

But it can also function as a dominance power move. First of all, it increases the perceived power of the yelling party, since a weak negotiator usually does not get angry. And it can generate concessions out of fear.

Always watch out for a negotiator who raises his voice at you!
It might be the sign of a very advanced power mover.

P.S.: Anger outbursts is also an abusive technique that abusive partners -most often men- use to control relationships. 

21. Reopening Negotiations / Negotiator’s Swapping

You negotiate a deal and all seems good.

You meet for coffee to deal with the latest details, like when to meet the notary.
Maybe you meet with one of the partners, not the one you negotiated with, but you make little of it.

But as soon as he sits down he starts not with the details, but he reopens the price negotiations.
Icing on the cake, he starts from the price you already agreed on, and frames it as “the price you demand”. From the “price you demand”, of course, you can only go down.

This exactly what a neighbor of mine did to me when negotiating the sale of a garage, with the negotiators being husband and wife.

Solution:

You have a few options here:

1. Shame them, explain what they are doing and say it’s not cool;

2. Pretend you are re-negotiating, but start from a crazy high asking price and say that was the initial ask price and you go to the agreed price after extensive negotiation. And this is such a wonderful price for them that you really cannot go any lower;

3. Threaten to take the deal away, say that this price is already so low that it’s easy to find anyone who would buy it (ie.: I can go make a deal with someone else). You are here now to hammer the details (ie.: stop BS me and wasting my time)

22. Ask & Drop

If you want to do something, but it’s not urgent, you can use this technique:

  1. Contact different providers
  2. Talk to them about your project
  3. Ask for a quote
  4. DROP IT

Now that they’ve invested and were hoping to turn you from prospect to customer, chances are they’ll contact you again.

At that point, they’re chasing, and all power lies with you.

Here is an example:

Notice how responsive I am.
Until… Until he schedules the call, I appear, he follows up… And I disappear.

Then he re-engages, I ask for a discount and:

The discount is forthcoming.
He handles it well, actually, but it’s a good discount on a price I was already cool to pay.
And that’s only the first step. You can then go a second round as well.

And thanks to those guys’ work, you’re now enjoying this course on this new and efficient platform :).

This is a technique I’ve used time and time again.
Start using it for your bigger project, and you’ll be saving thousands and thousands.

23. Psychological Tricks

The worst enemies are those who come at you with a smile, someone said.
These are psychological techniques that leverage the “smile” concept and come at you disguised as friends:

Do it because you like me (and I like you too)

if you find yourself having a lot in common with someone, it’s either a crazy coincidence, or the sign of someone who is trying to butter you up.

Solution: Focus on the transaction, not to how much you like someone.

Do it because I am giving

Another common negotiation dirty tactic is to leverage our inborn tendency to give back.
The problem is that our natural tendency to give back does not differentiate much between “sizes of giving”.
Thus buying you the menu lunch will make you soften on that 5% price you’re discussing about your house. The first is worth 10 Euros, the second is worth 10.000 Euros.

Solution: Focus on the transaction, not to how much you owe someone. And better still: never let anyone pay for your lunch.

Do it now because it’s hot commodity: everybody else wants to do it

We all value and act more quickly and without thinking when we feel that a product is scarce. Especially if it’s getting scarce because of high demand.
Watch out for last item offers, or for buildings that are getting all sold out: more times than not, it’s a fake.

Solution: Focus on what you need, not on what others are getting (there might not even be any “others” anyway).

Do it because I empathize

Another psychological trick you must be aware of is that of the (fake) empathizer.

This is what Chris Voss talks about in “Never Split the Difference” as an hostage negotiator.

Voss said that old-school negotiators, with their tough stance, caused more troubles than help. His technique instead, today adopted by all negotiators the world over, is to listen to the kidnappers, listen to their woes, let them vent and empathize.
This technique probably takes the crown as the most perverse power move in potentially screwing many otherwise well-intentioned people.

The empathizer is indeed the most lethal technique when you are at your desperate or at your worst. Because that’s exactly when you need the most someone to understand you and empathize with you.
Albeit this technique can of course be used for good, it’s a fact of life that it can also be used for harm.
So watch out for the sharks of this word to be listening to you only to plant the knife on your back as soon as you turn.

Example:
Imagine you are negotiating your severance package after you have been fired, and you are speaking to the HR representative. They say “I’m sorry, you are such an esteemed person around here. How do you feel”.

Maybe they will add “we are aware that your manager has some issues”. Then you complain about your boss, and they will be all ears. They will say that so far they have been powerless in booting your manager. Hopefully things will change soon, they hint.
You’re so happy that the asshole will be getting the boot now.

Then maybe they say they know you bought a house, hinting at your mortgage.
They ask how do you feel about that, and if you think you’ll find a job soon. And then maybe they got some connections for you which can help.

Full circle.

Now you’re ready to give.

Solution:
Don’t fall for it! They are buttering you up. Understand that some negotiations are win-lose, and your job is to make the other party the loser.
To insulate yourself, a good technique is to smile but, deep down, to consider everyone across the table an enemy.
Otherwise, keep repeating to yourself “this is only business and I have a goal, this is only business and I must reach my goal, this is only business and I will get the most I can get”.

Be especially careful of empathizers when there is an asymmetry of information (ie.: used cars, products you can’t assess, etc.).

Do it because I’m inspiring you

Any crap of “rebirth”, “change”, “opportunity”… They’re only true when they come from friends and people who care about you.
Not from the people you are negotiation with:

Here is a rule of thumb: whenever you are negotiating something important where money or your future is at stake, treat is a cold business transaction.
Resist any attempt to change your mood or you put your decision making at risk.

Follow through because I’m complimenting you

Finally, if they compliment you for your negotiation skills, they might know a lot about psychology and/or they might be following a script and/or they might be happy with the results and want to make sure you stick with the verbal agreement and follow through with the paperwork.

Research indeed shows that employees follow through on the agreement and stay longer on the job not based on what they negotiated, but based on how they feel about the negotiation.

Highly informed HR personnel knows this. So if they compliment you… Consider you’re dealing with someone who knows what they’re doing, or who is very happy about the negotiated agreement.

See a few more good entries in the forums:

The pity play
Honey-deal trap
Fake self-disclosure to acquire information (example from my neighbor)
Using indirect threats to gain a discount (example from ThePowerMoves.com)

Electronic Communication Against Power Differential

Remember: there is no shame in recognizing that someone is more powerful than you are.

The real shame is pretending there is no power differential and then being taken advantage of. Or, worse, doing an ego-driven decision and lying to yourself that you are the stronger part.

Much better is to assess the situation for what it really is.

And if you realize that the other party has more negotiation power -or even social power-, then concoct a good strategy.

A good idea could be to not meet in person.

Studies show that electronic communication tends to produce more equitable outcomes when there is an obvious power differential.
Croson says:

In particular, the electronic medium “levels the playing field” between
stronger and weaker negotiators

When you know you’re outgunned and can’t do much about it, don’t’ set yourself up as the sacrificial lamb.
Pretend instead you’re not free and you’d rather use phone or email.

This technique also works for people who are not as experienced, not as aggressive and not as good at thinking on their feet.

When an ex-girlfriend of mine was having trouble with her former landlord, a rich and aggressive former KGB agent, I advised her to keep the communication via email.

Had they met in person, he would have steamrolled her (and she would have retaliated by suing).

By the way, my girl walked into my flat telling me she was going to seek a lawyer and sue ASAP because with these people “you need to hit first, they only understand strength”.
Instead, I drafted the first email for her based on the basic principle of ThePowerMoves: seek collaborative frames first, and seek to make friends instead of enemies.

The situation turned from court to a “friendly enough” deal. Hundreds of hours saved in anger and court time, and thousands of Euros saved (she also read that email to her parents later on, and it further made her fall in love).

Negotiation Pitfalls to avoid: The Basics

Here are a few more common mistakes you must avoid:

1. Don’t Say WHY You’re Interested

Unless you’re at a job interview, never tell sellers the real reason you want to buy (or sell) something.
Especially if the reason why you’re interested is that you need the object or because it has a special meaning for you.

You risk coming across like a very interested buyer, and you don’t necessarily want that (exceptions apply, but let’s stick with the general rule).
And at worst, the sellers will use that information against you.

Instead, say you’re interested yes but you’re not rushed and don’t have any impellent reason to buy.
The flat looks “kinda cool” and the car “not too shabby”.

Especially, never share information that the seller might not be aware of.
Look at this example:

I had completely forgotten of the Jazz Festival, but he reminded me.
And since it’s a major event he basically let me know that I can raise prices because of higher demand.

2. Don’t Say You Really Need It

This is important.

Gregor Berz in “Game Theory Bargaining” shows that when people say they really need to go through with the transaction they might go through with the transaction… But they give up all their power, all their present margins and, often, they give up their negotiation power and their future margins as well.

The crazy thing?
Negotiators who take advantage of our weakness will feel that it’s fair!

He writes:

(…) has been confirmed in experiments with students time and again. If both negotiation parties are aware of the assessment of utility of the counterparty, then they divide it “fairly” based on the utility and not the pie itself

Dividing “fairly” based on the utility means giving less to the one who needs it the most (because, well, a dollar to a starving man does matter more than a dollar to a rich fat-cat).

Crazy, eh?

But that’s how the human mind works and that’s why to avoid abuse and to live in a more honest and fair world we all must learn about psychology and power moves.

In a nutshell: unless you’re about starving and are ready to give up all your power and credibility, do NOT plead and do NOT reveal your impellent needs.

3. Don’t Write “Negotiable” 

Unless you know very well what you’re doing and you got a plan in mind, don’t write “negotiable”.

It’s like inviting lowball offers and it communicates to everyone that you’re desperate to sell and that what you’re offering “is not really worth that much”.
If the price tag is too high, lower it and remove “negotiable”.

4. Don’t Be Clueless & Look Clueless: Hire Help

Looking clueless is OK, even recommendable if you are not clueless.
By faking ignorance you can gauge them and place booby traps on them.

But if you look clueless and are clueless, then you’re at the sharks’ mercy.

Know when you know nothing and have the good sense of hiring help. Hire an assessor, a lawyer, even a negotiator or anyone with expertise who can guide you.

First time home buyers, termination agreements, business equity decisions.. These are all situations where you shouldn’t go alone as a first-timer.

Big deals are not the right place and time to learn the ropes. The cost for mistakes is too high and it’s very easy to do better by simply hiring help.

5. Don’t Let Them Lead You Into The Business Talk

Do have some initial chit chat, but don’t let them take the full lead on it.
Aim for either a 50/50 back and forth or you take the lead.

Most of all, don’t let them be the first to start the business talk while you look like you were waiting for them to take the lead.
That gives them too much power.

Ideally, yo start the business the talk.
If they start it, immediately look like you wanted to do the same and you’re glad you finally got into it. Act with confidence and with an air of “alright, I like you but let’s get down to it because, me too, I ain’t got time to waste”.

6. Not Mentioning Alternatives

Old school negotiators used to believe that keeping all the cards close to their chest was the professional way of negotiation.

Old school negotiators were idiotic.

As we’ve seen before instead more socially intelligent -and more effective negotiators- know instead that they can use (fake) kindness, vulnerability and information as manipulation tools.

And they know that’s good to drop what William Ury in “Getting to Yes” calls BATNAs.
BATNAs are nothing but your other alternatives, and they’re a powerful way to get better deals.

You can simply say that you also have some others who are interests. Or if it’s a company you are interviewing for you can just say you’re also interviewing with other companies and then ask them:

I’m also talking to company X. How do you think you’re different from company X?

And if you got two options, negotiate it like this:

How to pitch two employers against each other

7. Don’t Buy Into PC BS: Look At The Cover

By that, I mean “don’t buy into politically correct bullshit”.

Intuitions are often good when you become a good observer (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink).
And experiments have shown that with just a few minutes of conversation people are able to tell who is a reliable negotiation partner and who’s not.

So don’t force yourself to scrap your first impressions and feelings because of some stupid social diktat such as “don’t be racist”, “be open-minded” or “oh come on, that doesn’t mean anything”.

It might not mean anything, but it can also save you big bucks, so take all your hunches seriously.

Look at how the embattled Carlo Ghosn looks.

World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Look up some of his videos, see his facial expressions and ask yourself: would I trust this guy? Then listen to your intuition (Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues, says you can train your intuition by constantly asking yourself those questions).

And if you answer honestly, you probably shouldn’t trust him.

Or look at pictures of Richard Fuld, the super aggressive former CEO of Lehman Brothers. Is this a guy you’d trust on a negotiation?

Exactly.
Watch out for the sharks out there, they get rich preying on the naive sheep.
And sometimes, they just look like sharks.


Bonus!

And here’s a bonus for you.
Click on the image and you will access the “20 unethical real estate negotiation hacks”.

For information purpose only (and for those few aholes who had it coming)

This was a long lesson!
Come back to it whenever you have a negotiation ahead of you.

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