TOP 10 NEGOTIATION DIRTY TRICKS

 

1. Physical intimidation. 

Psychologically destabilise the other party by sitting close, leaning across the table, sitting in a bigger chair, positioning them with the sun in their eyes.

2. Sow a bad seed. 

Drop lots of hints about the strategic context or operational situation that isn't true, to structure expectations of the other party.

3. Deliberate misunderstanding.

Deliberately misinterpret a point to your advantage in the hope that the other party misses it or is too timid to correct them e.g. incorrect summary.

4. The vow of silence.

Refuse to give any information or explain any statement/proposal that you make.

5. Giggling school girl. 

Undermine the other party's confidence in their position/proposal by passing notes to each other look up and snigger.

6. Good cop bad cop. 

Apply psychological pressure with this old classic. The intended effect is that good cop gets incremental concessions as a result of bad cop's behaviour.

7. Chinese water torture. 

Continuous repetition of the same demand regardless of response (unless it's 'yes') in the hope that you will grind the other party down or at least squeeze extra concessions out of them.

8. Going nuclear. 

Dismiss relatively small demands with disproportionate sanctions.

9. The shudder. 

React incredulously to a proposal "you can't be serious, that's no where near realistic".

10. Pickpocket. 

Deliberately take a little extra post agreement e.g. pay late or change specification.

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Alternatives

Negotiators don’t necessarily derive their power from the relative size of their organisations. In fact, many negotiators fall into the trap of being scared by a seemingly “bigger” opponent on the other side and end up striking deals that belie their significance to the other side. As I have written before, these deals can be commercially ruinous. In fact, they derive their power from the incentives and sanctions that they have at their disposal. The problem that negotiators face when deploying their power, exerting their leverage as I once heard it described, is that some incentives seem relatively indivisible. They have one enormous “chunk” of a concession and then it’s over to threats and counter-threats – never a place where nice people like to be!

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