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Most successful negotiators recognize that the way people involved in negotiations behave does not always reflect their true feelings or intentions. Let’s take a look at the negotiation tactics you can use on or by yourself. Whether you choose to use these tactics or not, it is vital to understand:

o Tactical work

o They can be worn on you, and they can be worn by you

o Once they are recognized as tactics, their effects are reduced or eliminated

You may feel that there is no need in your particular case to negotiate or resort to tactics. under negotiation This is a matter of personal choice.

In general, the tactics are used to gain a short-term advantage during the negotiation and are designed to lower your expectations of coming to a successful conclusion.

There are many tactics available to negotiators. Here are some that you may recognize.


This can start even before you meet or begin your negotiations with the other party. Let’s take a sales example:

You call for the appointment and the other side says, aggressively:

“Don’t bother coming if you’re going to tell me about price increases. You’ll be wasting my time and I’ll be forced to talk to your competitors”.

When you arrive, they make you wait at the reception for half an hour, without being told why. When you walk through the door into the other person’s office, they motion for you to sit down, but they don’t look up. Instead, they sit through their competitor’s brochure, silently ignoring your efforts to strike up a conversation.

They give you a low, uncomfortable chair to sit in that is directly in line with the sun shining into the office. At this stage, how safe do you feel?

The monkey on the back:

Some negotiators have an irritating habit of handing their problems over to you to become your problems. This is the “monkey on his back” they want you to carry for them.

A classic example is the person who says: “I only have £10,000 in my budget”.

This is often used tactically to force a price reduction. This is what you can do.

When one side says “I only have £10,000 in budget”look concerned and say something like:

“That’s a problem. As you no doubt know, the cost of our systems can be up to £20,000 and I really want to help you choose the best system to meet your needs. Does that mean if one of our systems has everything you’re looking for? looking for, but it costs £20,000, would you rather I didn’t show it to you?”

The “monkey” has been returned and they have to make a choice. If the objection is genuine and the budget figure is correct, you should try to find an alternative that meets your needs as well as theirs.

If they can really only spend £10,000, that’s not a tactic but the truth. When dealing with tactics, the first decision you need to make is whether it is a tactic or a genuine situation. If it’s genuine, you have a problem to solve, rather than a tactic to overcome.

The use of higher authority:

This can be the most effective way to reduce pressure in the negotiation by introducing an invisible third party and can also be effective in closing the deal.

“I need this to be agreed upon by my Board of Directors.” “If you agree to the terms we’ve discussed, do we have a deal?”

However, be careful to use this device sparingly so that the other party does not begin to feel that you yourself do not have the authority to make decisions.

One way to counter this tactic is to say before the negotiation begins: “If this proposal meets your needs, is there any reason why you wouldn’t give me your decision today?”

If the other party still wants to go to a higher authority, appeal to their ego by saying: “Of course, they will agree with your recommendations, won’t they? Will you recommend this proposal?”


Negotiations can be an exhausting process. As the time when a deal is likely nears, both sides show a psychological need to settle and move on to something else.

You are very vulnerable when the other party reaches for your pen to sign the order form or contract, to award items that do not significantly affect the bottom line. “Oh, by the way, this includes free shipping, doesn’t it?” Prayed “Oh, by the way, does the price of the car include a full tank of gas?”

Bites work best when they are small and are requested at the right psychological moment. Just like peanuts, eat enough and they get fat.

Good negotiators often hold certain items on their wish list until the last minute when the other party is vulnerable. Be careful with this.

The good and the bad:

You may have come across this tactic before or seen it in movies or on TV. This is a tactic designed to soften you up in the negotiation.

For example, you are negotiating the renewal of your service contract with your Purchasing Director and your Finance Director. You present your proposal and the purchasing manager suddenly gets angry and walks away in disgust muttering to himself how unfair you have been and that the relationship is truly over.

You pick up your briefcase and are shown the door when the Finance Director smiles at you sympathetically and says:

“I’m so sorry about that. He’s under a lot of pressure. I’d like to help you renew your contract, but he really won’t consider the price you’ve suggested. Why don’t I go and talk to him about it and see if we can come to a compromise? What is it?” the end result of the contract? If you give me your best price, I’ll see what I can do.”

The best way to deal with this tactic is to recognize the game that is being played and assess exactly what the quality of the relationship is. You might be able to say something like:

“Come on, you’re using good boy, bad boy. You’re an excellent negotiator, but let’s sit down and discuss the proposal realistically.”.

If you don’t have this kind of relationship, stand firm and insist on dealing with the bad guy, or fool yourself into giving a figure that is within your acceptable range of alternatives.

A way to combine good boy, bad boy. with greater authority is saying things like:

“Well, I’d love to make a deal with you on that basis, but my manager refuses to let me agree to terms of this nature without further consultation and refuses to talk to the sellers. Give me your best price and I’ll see what I can do.”

body language:

It is important in negotiation to react verbally and visually when offers are made. You may have seen the most theatrical negotiators hang their heads in despair or accuse you of being unfair and souring a perfectly good relationship when you present your proposal. Human nature is such that we can believe and accept these outbursts against us and, as a result, our negotiating position is weakened.

Be sure to react to the other side’s offer the next time you’re in a negotiation. If you don’t show any reaction, they may be tempted to ask for more and more and you will lose the initiative in the negotiation. Also, it is almost certain that your opening offer is higher than the figure they are willing to pay for, so it is important that you clearly signal your unwillingness to accept the opening position.

If you get to the point where you won’t go, it’s important to show it with your body language. Newsreaders, when they have finished reading the news, have a habit of going back to their script and reordering their papers. This tells the world that they have finished their task and are preparing to leave.

Similarly, when you make your final offer, it can be very powerful to get your papers together and indicate with your body that it really is your final offer. Put away your pen, sit back in your chair, and be quiet. Show concern and stay quiet.

If your voice says final offer but your body says let’s keep talking, the other party will ignore what you say and continue negotiating.

The use of silence:

During the negotiation, you may make a proposal and find that the other party remains silent. This can be very difficult to deal with and often signals disapproval to the inexperienced negotiator. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so silence induces in people the need to speak.

If you have a proposal to make, make it and ask the other party how they feel about it. Having asked the question, sit back and wait for the answer. Do what you do; do not change your offer as this could seriously weaken your position.

the vice:

A common technique used by negotiators when presented with a proposal is to say:

“You’ll have to do better than that.”

The most powerful way to deal with this is to ask them to be more specific. Whatever you do, don’t weaken your negotiating position in response to vice by giving something away too easily. This will only encourage repetition of the behavior.

The power of legitimacy:

People believe what they see in writing. We all assume that if something is printed or written, it is not negotiable. This is what can make price lists so powerful. If you have to present a customer with a price increase or want to encourage a pre-order to beat a price increase, show something in writing, such as a note from your boss’s office announcing the increase. This will have a much bigger impact than simply saying your prices are about to go up.

When presented with a price tag at a store, ask to speak to the manager and make an offer. You might be surprised at the results.

And finally: the low key approach:

Don’t appear too enthusiastic during negotiations. Excessive enthusiasm can encourage savvy negotiators to revise their strategy and demand more.

If you are in a negotiation and the other party does not respond to your proposal, recognize that this could be a tactic and avoid giving concessions just to encourage them. Sellers like to be liked and will often give money away in a negotiation if the other party seems unhappy.

For example, if you are buying a car, avoid telling the salesperson things like:

“This is exactly what I’m looking for. I really like the alloy wheels”.

Develop a discreet approach. Say things like:

“Well, it may not be exactly what I’m looking for, but I might be interested if the price is right”.

Copyright © 2008 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

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