How To Deal With A Know-It-All In A Negotiation

It turns out that in a negotiation, a know-it-all often doesn't
It turns out that in a negotiation, a know-it-all often doesn’t
Image Credit: bark

If your goal in life is to meet all sorts of different types of people, then you most defiantly do want to become a negotiator. Sitting across from us at the negotiating table will be a parade of just about every type of person that you could possibly imagine and they’ll be using a wide variety of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques.. Yes, some will be very nice people that we’ll be glad that we’ve had a chance to meet. However, then there’s the know-it-all.

Say Hello To The Know-It-All

You may not be anticipating negotiating with a know-it-all, but you sure will recognize them when they show up at your next negotiation. How did this person get this way? Generally I’ve found that they have a great deal of either personal experience or professional experience in whatever is being negotiated. The alternative is that they are in some way famous (at least in relation to what is being negotiated) or they’ve got some stature among the people who are involved in the negotiations.

The reason that you may struggle to negotiate with someone who is a know-it-all is because in their mind, they know everything that there is to know about the deal that you are working to put together. He or she does not think that there are any questions that need to be answered (they already know the answers) nor do they believe that any other people need to be involved – what value would they bring? Every time this type of person is successful in something like a negotiation or becomes more well known, they become just a bit more self-confident. This leads them to becoming over-confident.

You’ll know that you are dealing with a know-it-all almost from the start of your negotiation. What will happen very quickly as the negotiations start is that the know-it-all will tell you that they know what needs to be done. They’ll tell you that they’ve discussed this issue many times before, they’ve heard all of the arguments around it, and they’ve looked into all of the options. They really don’t need you to tell them anything – they already know it.

Why Negotiating With A Know-It-All Is Good News For You

Let’s face it – negotiating with a know-it-all is not fun. They are full of themselves and more often than not you are going to find yourself being cut off by them as they tell you that they already know what you are going to tell them. When this happens you need to bite your tongue. Negotiating with a know-it-all is actually a good thing for you – the key is to recognize that you are dealing with a know-it-all.

In a negotiation with a know-it-all, you have the advantage. As negotiators we always need to understand that we truly do not “know it all”. There are always things for us to be learning both at the negotiating table and away from it. The more you learn and the more information that you are able to acquire, the more you’ll be able to use it in a future negotiation. It may not always be clear that something that you are learning about will be valuable, but I can tell you that I’ve been surprised on more than one occasion that something that I learned casually became valuable later on.

Where the know-it-all has made a major negotiating mistake is that he or she has decided that there is nothing left for them to learn. I believe that they really do think that they have decided that there is nothing left for them to learn about the topic that is being negotiated. This is a fatal mistake on their part. There are always new things happening in regards to anything that is being negotiated. If you close yourself off from learning about them, then you are providing the other side with an opportunity to gain information that you’ll never have. This means that the know-it-all is transferring power to you. Take it and run with it!

What All Of This Means For You

We can control a lot of things that happen in our lives. However, one of the things that is beyond our control is who we’ll be negotiating with next. They could have virtually any type of personality. You’ll need to be ready to deal with whomever they turn out to be. One such personality that you need to be prepared for is the know-it-all.

The know-it-all is a person who has no problem telling you that they’ve been involved in this type of principled negotiation before. They do not believe that you are going to be able to tell them or show them anything that they have not already seen before. Been there, done that. You should be thrilled when you encounter this type of negotiator. They have decided that there is nothing left for them to learn. You need to understand that this is never the case. You will always have the upper hand in this type of negotiation.

Knowing how to handle a know-it-all is one thing, realizing that we can all become this type of negotiator is another thing. It is all too easy to decide that we’ve seen the type of negotiation that we are involved in before and we know how to handle it. The reality is that we may have seen something similar, but we’ve never seen anything exactly like this negotiation. Always keep your mind open to learning new things and you won’t turn into a know-it-all!

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

Question For You: What steps can you take to make sure that you are not turning into a know-it-all?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Our goal in any negotiation is to get the deal that we want. Exactly how we can go about getting that deal is where things start to get just a bit tricky. When we encounter a negotiator who is very, very confident, this opens a door for us that is not normally there. When the other side is confident, we need to adjust our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to be humble.