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Put the bully in his place

Learn how to deal with a bully or walk away.

Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

12 Bullies

There are negotiators who are abusive, manipulative, intimidating, and demanding. They are called bullies. We all come across bullies from time to time. Bullies who have power or authority often use it to try to control, dominate, and manipulate others to serve their own agendas. They are generally not worth negotiating with. But sometimes you either choose to continue negotiating with a bully because you want what the bully has, or you want to sell the bully what he wants; and sometimes you have no choice but to deal with a negotiating bully—for instance, in litigation or mediation. In either case, it helps to understand what makes bullies tick, and to know how to handle them.

Psychologically, every bully has a scared little person inside for which bullying behaviour is an overcompensation, an attempt to deny or repress the fears the person is afraid to face that usually go back to childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. Bullying is always a symptom of deep unresolved psychological wounding. Knowing this helps you to understand a bully better, and even have empathy for him or her.

A negotiating bully often will not reveal him- or herself until the negotiation is in process. Before then, he or she may smile, shake your hand in a friendly manner, and pretend to be friendly. But, once the negotiation is started, and there is something at stake, the bully will gradually or suddenly come out from behind the social mask and be his or her ruthless, coercive, abusive self. At that point, it is time to acknowledge to yourself what is happening, and to decide whether or not it is worth proceeding. Is the bully so unpleasant that you’re willing to walk away from the negotiation without getting what you want? Is the bully so uncooperative that there is simply no chance of reaching a fair and satisfactory outcome? These are matters you must consider.

It’s important not to argue with a bully, which simply plays into that person’s hand. A bully loves to argue and vent his or her abusive nature. Simply listen with a half-smile on your face and let the bully run on. Eventually the person may run out of steam, realising these tactics have gotten him or her nowhere. Or you can even feed the bully’s ego a bit so that he or she feels respected and validated, which may make him or her more friendly and cooperative. But, if you decide to end the negotiation, you can do it either abruptly or diplomatically. If the bully represents a company you may still want to do business with, or if you share associates in common with the bully, then a diplomatic ending is best. If there are no such entanglements and you know you don’t want to do business with this person in the future, an abrupt—though not hostile or disrespectful—ending is fine. It can be as simple as saying, “It’s clear to me we’re not going to be able to work together on this, so let’s call it a day.” Sometimes this will actually get the bully to back down and become conciliatory, so that the negotiation can proceed to a satisfactory conclusion.

If you find yourself negotiating with an abusive bully who uses anger as a tactic, you need to assess how important this negotiation is for you, and decide whether you can afford to walk away with nothing but your self-respect. If you can’t afford to walk away financially, you need to ensure that your dependence on this person is reduced as soon as is practically possible.

Being willing to walk away with nothing from a negotiation with a bully breaks any power that person might think he or she has over you. In a negotiation a bully is depending on you needing the deal more than he or she does. Being willing to walk away with nothing on principle shows the strength and character the bully depends on you not having, and which the bully probably lacks. Remember that the bully either needs or desires whatever goods or services you are offering, or needs to sell you what he or she is offering; otherwise he or she would not be negotiating with you in the first place.


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