How to Overcome the Top Ten Negotiating Tactics
By John Patrick Dolan
uses negotiation tactics to get what they want, whether they’re
haggling over the price of an item in a garage sale or discussing
potential salary with a future employer. Most of the time, when you
enter a negotiating situation you can expect the other party to use
certain maneuvers to tip the scales in their favor. For example, you
can expect a potential employer to offer you less money than they are
actually willing to pay to give themselves negotiating room. And a
buyer will usually act surprised at your stated price, no matter how
reasonable it may be, to pressure you into lowering it.
uses these tactics, but that doesn’t mean that negotiations can’t
be fair. Some tactics are acceptable, while others are downright
sleazy. Tactics are part of the process, and you can use them and
still maintain your negotiations on an honest level. In other words,
the use of tactics doesn’t necessarily mean tricking or manipulating
tactics are simply tools to expedite the negotiation process; others
are used to take advantage of the other person. To be successful in
sales and business, you must be able to differentiate between the fair
and unfair negotiation tactics so you can use the good ones to your
advantage and deflect the questionable ones. Consider the following
ten negotiation tactics and the methods you can use to deflect them:
#1: The Wince:
can be explained as any overt negative reaction to someone’s offer.
For example, you might act stunned or surprised when your negotiating
counterpart names their terms. This tactic tells your counterpart that
you know your limits, which isn’t under-handed or dishonest. And
wincing at the right time can potentially save you thousands of
dollars. Keep in mind that when deals are negotiable, your counterpart
will start high.
you won’t always be the wincer. Many times, especially in the sales
profession, you’ll be on the receiving end of the wince. In this
case, you can counter with the next tactic.
negotiation process, silence can be your strongest tool. If you
don’t like what your counterpart has said, or if you’ve made an
offer and you’re waiting for a response, just sit back and wait.
Most people feel uncomfortable when conversation ceases, and they
start talking automatically to fill the void. Almost without fail,
your counterpart will start whittling away his or her position when
you use this tactic.
So what if
you find yourself negotiating with a person who understands the
importance of silence as well as you? Rather than wasting time in
silence, restate your offer. Don’t make suggestions; just repeat
your terms. This maneuver forces the other person to respond, and more
often than not, they respond with a concession.
#3: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Routine:
sleazy tactic is often used in movies, where two detectives are
interrogating a person who’s just been arrested. One detective seems
unreasonable and inflexible, while the other tries to make it look
like he or she is on the suspect’s side. This tactic is designed to
get you to make concessions without the other side making any in
find yourself in a good guy/bad guy situation, the best response is to
ignore it. Recognize this game for what it is, but don’t play along
and don’t allow the good guy to influence your decision. The best
technique is to let your counterparts play their game, while you watch
out for your own interests.
#4: Limited Authority:
tactic is a variation on the good guy/bad guy routine, but instead of
two people working over you, the one person you’re dealing with
tells you that he or she must approve any deals with an unseen higher
authority. Sometimes, this higher authority exists, but other times
your counterpart will create this figure to gain an edge in the
because your counterpart tells you, “It’s out of my hands,”
don’t automatically assume the person is being honest. In this type
of situation, two options exist: one, ask to deal directly with this
so-called higher authority; or two, test the limits of your
counterpart. You may find that although the other person has used this
tactic to force you into backing down, if you keep at him or her, you
may get what you want.
#5: The Red Herring:
technique comes from fox hunting competitions, where one team drags a
dead fish across the fox’s path to distract the other team’s dogs.
At the bargaining table, a red herring means one side brings up a
minor point to distract the other side from the main issue. Effective
and ethical negotiators generally agree that this tactic is the
sleaziest of them all.
negotiation process is bogged down with a minor problem, and your
counterpart insists on settling it before they’ll even talk about
more important issues, then you are probably dealing with a red
herring. In this case, use extreme caution, and suggest setting the
issue aside temporarily to work out other details.
#6: The Trial Balloon:
balloons are questions designed to assess your negotiating
counterpart’s position without giving any clues about your plans.
For example, you may ask your counterpart, “Would you consider
trying our services on a temporary basis?” or “Have you considered
our other service plans?” Essentially, these types of questions put
the ball in your counterpart’s court, and the nice part about them
is they aren’t really offers. They allow you to gain information
without making a commitment.
you’re on the receiving end of a trial balloon question, you may
feel compelled to answer it thoroughly. To maintain your edge, resist
this temptation and counter with another question. For example, if
someone asks, “Would you consider financing the house yourself?”
respond, “Well, if I did, what would your offer be?”
is the opposite of the trial balloon. Instead of tempting you to make
the first offer, your counterpart will open the process with a
fantastic offer. Then after you agree, they start hitting you with
example, say you see an ad for a product priced lower than other
stores. But then after you agree to buy, the sales representative
uncovers the hidden costs, such as shipping or installation. In the
end you probably pay more than you would have at another store listing
a higher price on the product. To avoid falling victim to this tactic,
ask your counterpart about additional costs before agreeing to any
#8: The Bait-and-Switch:
low-balling, the bait-and-switch tactic should be avoided. Your
counterpart may try to attract your interests with one great offer,
but then hook you with another mediocre one. This tactic will almost
always burn you, unless you can recognize it. If your counterpart were
really able to offer a genuinely good deal, they wouldn’t have to
resort to bait-and-switch.
#9: Outrageous Behavior:
behavior can be categorized as any form of socially unacceptable
conduct intended to force the other side to make a move, such as
throwing a fit of anger or bursting into tears. As most people feel
uncomfortable in these situations, they may reduce their negotiating
terms just to avoid them.
the most effective response to outrageous behavior is none at all.
Just wait for the fit to die down before reacting, because emotional
negotiations can result in disaster.
#10: The Written Word:
of a deal are written out, they often seem non-negotiable. For
example, when was the last time you negotiated a lease, or a loan, or
even a service contract that was typed up in advance in an
official-looking document? You probably assumed these deals were
non-negotiable, and for some reason most people make the same mistake
of accepting terms that appear in writing.
defense against this tactic is simply to question everything, whether
it appears in writing or not. You’ll inevitably run into some
standard, non-negotiable documents, but it never hurts to ask
questions. You may be surprised how many contracts actually are
negotiable when challenged.
Negotiations in the Future:
have used these ten negotiation tactics for years, but that doesn’t
mean they are always fair. So before you rush into your next
negotiation situation, make yourself aware of these tactics and how
they affect the process. When you learn the uses and defenses of these
negotiation techniques, you can reach more mutually beneficial
agreements and win more sales on better terms.
Read other articles and learn more
about John Patrick Dolan.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and