10 Ways to Negotiate With a Difficult Person

Negotiation is an important nowadays. We are negotiating something or the other every time. Be it negotiating your pay package with your boss, your relationship with your partner, the prices of supplies with the vendor or your own life with yourself. So, its important to learn a few things that would help you to become a better negotiator! However, the first thing you should note is that there’s a marked difference between a negotiation and a counterpart who is deliberately adversarial. The following should help to diffuse the situation.

1. Don’t take their behavior personally. It is usually never about you. Their bad behavior has to
do with them; you just happen to be in the way at the moment.

2. Don’t fight back or try to win. In the end, difficult people need to save face. Their selfidentity
is tied into winning.

3. Exercise the greatest power you have as a negotiator: the power to change the game. You can’t change them. The only person you are in control of is you. Change your attitude and your response to their behavior.

4. Let them vent. Don’t vent back. Let them explain themselves without jumping in. Use the power of acknowledgment. Nod your head (nodding does not mean you agree, it just means you have heard what they said). Use positive gestures. Disarm and deflect the other side with kindness. Use silence to your advantage: It makes the other side wonder what you are thinking. Remain steadfast and assertive in expressing your goals and interests. Once the other side sees you are listening and understand their plight, they may be more willing to work with you.

5. Reframe what they say into neutral language. They say, “If you don’t like the room rental,
find another location.” You rephrase: “I understand the hotel needs a certain amount of revenue
to make this meeting fit into your goals; let’s come up with another way to satisfy both our needs.” (Offer a shorter setup time and indicate that they can sell space to another group for a meal function.)

6. If you are being given the silent treatment, get them to answer questions that do not include
a “yes” or “no” response. “I feel that we need more conversation to resolve the issues, please let
me know … (your thoughts, feelings).” Draw them out into a safe environment and listen.

7. Be prepared, remain professional, and use industry resources, such as Professional Meeting
Management, Fifth Edition (PMM5), to back up your points. It is hard to argue the same facts from several sources.

8. Create a safe environment; be up-front about your interests; do not make surprise attacks
or deadlines; be trustworthy; go at their pace.

9. Strengthen interpersonal relationships. Non-intrusive small talk may lead to common outside interests. Try to find a real person under the “bad behavior.”

10. If the negotiation is really awful and nothing seems to work, see if you can change the
venue for your discussions. If that does not work, as a last resort, try to get another person to
replace the bad apple. Take a non-confrontational approach, such as, “It seems we are getting
stuck a lot on the issues. Maybe we can get another perspective.”