Why Crying Works In A Sales Negotiation

by drjim on May 25, 2012

It turns out that crying during a sales negotiation is a form of emotional intimidation

It turns out that crying during a sales negotiation is a form of emotional intimidation

During sales negotiations, how do you try to appear to the other side of the table? Tough? Impartial? Unmoved? All of these terms describe how we traditionally view a negotiator. However, it turns out that sometimes the other side of the table uses a type of emotional intimidation as one of their negotiation styles or negotiating techniques in order to try to get their way. This can take the form of yelling or crying, but the goal is always the same: to get you to give in!

The Power Of Being Emotional

Ok tough guy (or girl), I can see you sitting there thinking to yourself that getting emotional during a negation is a silly thing to do. I mean, if you start to yell or cry then no matter what’s being negotiated aren’t you really telling the other side that you’ve just plain lost it and so doesn’t that mean that they’ve won?

You might think so, but you’d be wrong. The reason that the other side might be doing these things is because of how they know that you’ll react. When we see someone start to yell at us or break down and start to cry, then no matter how tough we are, we all react. Generally what we do is become defensive.

I hate to say it, but yelling can have a real effect. It turns out that at any time during the negotiation process when somebody starts to yell, our natural reaction is to believe that they really mean what they say. Talk about showmanship!

The same type of thing can happen when the other side starts to cry. When we see that, our instinctive reaction is to treat them with more kindness during the rest of the negotiations lest they start to cry again.

How You Can Fight Back

Given that yelling or crying can produce such an automatic response in us, the big question is if there is anything that we can do about it? The answer, thankfully, is yes.

The first, and most important, thing that you can do is to realize that you need to play it cool. Don’t react. If you match the other side’s behavior by becoming emotional like they are doing, then very quickly you’ll see the negotiations turn into an argument and nobody wants that.

One of the things that you need to realize is that even while they are exhibiting this type of extreme behavior, the other side is very carefully watching you. By not reacting you’ll be able to win their respect for you.

As the emotions involved in the negotiations start to rise, it can be very easy to get off track. Make sure that this doesn’t happen. Your job is going to be to keep things in focus. What this means is that you need to be constantly working to steer the conversation back to the topics that are being negotiated. Work to keep them away from whatever has caused the yelling or crying.

What you are going to find out is that the more that you insist that the conversation focus on the matter being negotiated, the less reason the other side will have to engage in the emotional intimidation that they are conducting. Every negotiation definition says that both sides need to be rational in order for you to be able to reach a deal. Hold your ground and you just may discover that it was all for show.

What All Of This Means For You

We generally don’t think of the other side of the negotiating table as yelling or crying. However, it turns out that by doing so they are exercising a form of emotional intimidation on us.

When the other side starts to yell or cry, our instinctive reaction is to start to search for a way to get them to stop. The longer that they carry on, the greater our desire to get them to stop will be. In the end, we may end up giving in to their demands just to get them to stop. When this behavior starts, we need to take a step back and keep our cool. Use words to try to resolve the situation.

Yelling and crying can cause us to take actions that we may later on regret. When the other side starts to use this negotiating tactic, play it cool and keep conducing a principled negotiation. Don’t let it get to you.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If the other side starts to yell or cry, should you call a halt to the negotiations and go for a break?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just how badly are you going to want to reach a deal during your next negotiation? Be very careful how you answer that question! It turns out that the other side may be able to maneuver you into a position where you’ll be willing to accept a deal that you really shouldn’t. “I’d never do that” you say. Well, yes, you problem would – if the other side escalated.

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