How To Negotiate With People Who Are Not Very Nice

You can't pick who you negotiate with and some people are not nice
You can’t pick who you negotiate with and some people are not nice
Image Credit: Peter McConnochie

I dream of the day that I get to pick who I have to negotiate with. I know the type of person that I want to spend time with: they are smart, know the topic, and are committed to reaching a deal with me. As of yet I have not reached the stage in life where this is the type of thing that I can control. What this means is that more often than I’d care to admit, I find myself negotiating with someone who is not very nice!

The Challenges Of Negotiating With People Who Are Not Nice

When you know that you’ll be negotiating with someone who is not a nice person, you tend to prepare differently. In short, you get your defenses up and practice your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques before you go into the room. From past experiences with people like this, you believe that you know how they are going to treat you and so you are steeling yourself against the onslaught that you are expecting. Your guard is up.

This, of course, means that you’ll be treating the other side with hostility almost from the start of the negotiations. You don’t want to allow them to get any good punches in on you and so you are going to go after them first. Additionally, the one thing that you never want to appear to a person who is not nice is being weak. Your outward aggression will prevent this from happening.

In some cases, when we know that we’ll be negotiating with a person who is not nice, as the negotiations are being set up we’ll use our communications with them to let them know that we will not be rolling over for them. This can be as simple as objecting to the location that they’ve picked for the negotiations to be held at. Additionally you can push back on exactly what will be discussed or the type of agreement that both sides are going to be working towards.

How To Successfully Negotiate With People Who Are Not Nice

The good news here is that it actually is possible to negotiate with a person who is not so nice. They may have an unpleasant personality and you may not like being in the room with them; however, that does not mean that you are not going to be able to reach a deal with them.

The most difficult part of negotiating with a person who is not nice is to lower your defenses before you go into the negotiation. You do not want to enter this negotiation with both guns blazing. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to take a conciliatory approach and assume that this time around they are going to be a nice person to negotiate with. Yes, you might be wrong, but you’ll never know if you don’t give them a chance.

Negotiators who are much wiser than I am have come up with an expression that covers this situation. What they say is that it is much easier to start soft and become hard than start hard and become soft. I tend to agree with them. By giving the other side of the table a chance to meet you in these negotiations, you are creating the possibility that the negotiations can turn out successfully.

What All Of This Means For You

In every principled negotiation, there is going to be conflict. Conflict can be a good thing. Conflict will allow you to establish your character, point out the differences between both sides of the table, and move the whole process forward. However, it’s when you find yourself getting ready to negotiate with someone who is not nice that you might start doubting that conflict is a good thing.

When we find ourselves negotiating with a person who is not so nice, the one things that you don’t want to do is go into the negotiation ready to do battle. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to start the negotiations out in a congenial manner. You’ll want to start out being cooperative with the hopes that they’ll take the same path. We always need to keep in mind that it is much easier to go from cooperative to competitive instead of trying to go the other way.

When we know that we are going to be negotiating with someone who is not so nice, it’s the easiest thing in the world to go ahead and get our guard. up. However, it turns out that we shouldn’t do this. Instead, go into the negotiation expecting the best and then adapt to match the direction that the other side decides to take.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should start to become competitive if the other side plays rough or should you give them several chances to do the right thing?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I am always up for a fair fight. No matter if I’m watching a UFC match on TV or if I’m getting ready to go into my next negotiation, as long as the opponents are evenly matched, it’s really anyone’s fight no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are used. However, as I’m sure that you are aware of, all too often when we start a negotiation it’s not a fair fight – the other side is starting out with more power than we have. What’s a negotiator to do?