Dealing With People Who Intimidate During A Negotiation

All too often in a negotiation, the other side will try to intimidate you
All too often in a negotiation, the other side will try to intimidate you
Image Credit: John

When was the last time that you met a bully? I’d be willing that there is a good chance that you were in a negotiation when this happened. For some odd reason, the field of negotiating, that delicate science of finding a deal that works for both sides, attracts more than its fair share of people who like to intimidate other people. You are going to run into them, what should you do when this happens?

How Do People Intimidate Other People During A Negotiation?

The interesting thing about people who intimidate during a negotiation is that their physical presence often has a lot to do with their need to intimidate. What we often discover is that people who are very tall or broad use these physical attributes to attempt to dominate the negotiations using all sorts of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. We can only guess that they discovered at an early age that this technique worked and so they continue to try to use them even today.

Make sure that you don’t get fooled by physical appearance itself. People who like to use intimidation during a negotiation often like to include their position in their company or their stature in the community to boost their negotiating power. As a negotiator, you need to be on guard when you start a negotiation. The intimidator will try to take control of the negotiation using their standard techniques. You need to find ways to push back.

What Should You Do When You Are Being Intimidated?

If you have not yet been intimidated during a negotiation, don’t worry, it will eventually happen. One of the most important things that you are going to have realize about dealing with someone who routinely uses intimidation as a part of how they negotiate is that they will not always come across as being tough.

What you are going to discover is that the intimidators have a habit of flipping back and forth between two very different personality types. Sometimes yes, they will be trying to use all of their intimidation skills to bend your will to their way of thinking. However, at other times they’ll switch to being nice. They view this as being one more way to get what they want.

When you detect what you are dealing with, an intimidator, you need to take action. The good news is that you are the one with power in this situation. Your strategy needs to consist of two parts, the first is the one where you don’t allow the other side’s intimidation to have any effect on you. This will cause them to have to switch to their “nice” mode. Once he or she switches to this mode, you’ll be able to negotiate with them as though they were not trying to intimidate you.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

In almost any principled negotiation situation we run into people who like to use intimidation to get their way. No matter if it is their physical form or perhaps their standing in either their organization or the community, they’re going to try to get their way in the negotiations by intimidating you. As a negotiator, you need to detect when this is happening and you need to take action.

Intimidators are known to use two methods to get their way. The first is exactly what it sounds like: they intimidate or threaten you to see things their way. They’ll use every trick that they have and make a lot of threats that tell you what will happen to you if you don’t go along with them. When they discover that this approach is not working with you, they’ll switch gears. They’ll become very, very nice. You need to be careful to not be fooled – this is just yet another “face” that they’ve put on in order to get their way. However, you can negotiate with the nice face and that’s exactly what you need to do.

As negotiators we often find ourselves in negotiating situations that are not ideal. When we are facing someone on the other side who likes to use intimidation, we need to understand what we are up against and react accordingly. If we can convert them into someone that we can negotiate with, then we’ll be well on our way to reaching the deal that we came to negotiate.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to determine if you are negotiating with someone who likes to use intimidation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In a perfect world, there would not be any intimidation when we negotiate. Both sides would treat each other with respect and neither side would feel the need to attempt to use brute force negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to get their way. The unfortunate reality is that we don’t live in a perfect world and that means that intimidation will show up in just about every negotiation that we are part of. This means that we need to know how to deal with it when it shows up.