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How to deal with an intimidator

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 few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

67 Intimidation

Wherever two parties come together with conflicting needs or goals, a spirit of fear and competition appears, and intimidation becomes an option. Many people consider intimidation respectable and justified – even necessary in business and negotiation.

But intimidation is generally a second-rate tactic used by people who lack first-rate skills, strategies, and tools for dealing with problematic or challenging situations; or who lack sufficient intelligence and imagination to find higher solutions; or who lack sufficient maturity to hold to higher principles. Intimidation can be a necessary last resort in certain circumstances – for example, when facing a snarling dog or a human predator whose bad intentions pose personal threat or danger; or in war, when many lives and perhaps the fate of nations is at stake. When dealing with criminal suspects in action, police use (and sometimes abuse) intimidation, and also in interrogations, threatening severe legal consequences to induce suspects to cooperate or confess. Government institutions, such as the IRS and the military, also use intimidation to impose authority or coerce cooperation.

But intimidation is rarely necessary or justified in personal relations and business negotiations. There, its use is generally an abandonment of the key principles and perspectives presented in this book. If a negotiation between two parties seeking a just and fair outcome in a personal or professional matter truly depends on mutual civility, consideration, and respect, then intimidation reflects a breakdown or violation of these essential protocols.

Using intimidation in a negotiation to force or manipulate an outcome in your favour destroys trust, goodwill, and the relationship with the other party. This may be par for the course in bitter negotiations between hostile parties. But great negotiators don’t sacrifice ethical principles to win short-term victories. They know that principles are the foundation of their careers and their character, and even the source of their power. They know that using intimidation to control or manipulate others and get their way compromises the ethical foundation on which their long-term success depends. They know that intimidation is a poor substitute for the intelligent reasoning, wise strategy, and maturity of character that make a truly great negotiator.

But intimidation is not just something we do to others, or they do to us. It is also a natural reaction to a superior force, something we feel in response to overwhelming challenge, or perceived danger or threat. Yet we don’t have to allow feelings of intimidation to control our behaviour. A seasoned negotiator channels feelings of intimidation into effective action.

Feeling intimidated, or trying to intimidate others in a negotiation, reflects a weakness or lack in us -a lack of confidence, knowledge, ability, skill, maturity, ethics, self-esteem, etc. When we are strong, prepared, and confident in our skills, strategies, and tools; when we have self-respect and integrity of character; when we have a bigger perspective than merely winning or losing; then we are not intimidated by others, and we don’t need to try to intimidate others to achieve our goals.

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Yet at times you may find yourself feeling intimidated by a person or situation. Perhaps the person you are negotiating with is a heavyweight, a “big shot.” Perhaps the negotiation involves something you badly want or need and are afraid you may not get, or that involves something you are afraid might happen to you. Perhaps the other party is an expert intimidator who has caught you off guard and made you feel weak, threatened, or insecure. In such situations, try the following exercises to shift your perspective:

  • Remember and rely on the fundamental principles and perspectives presented in this book that you know are true always. Remember to place principles above personalities.
  • Look in the person’s eyes and see the human being in front of you instead of a title, achievements, a reputation, or public relations image. Remember that everyone is human and imperfect; everyone has needs and desires, weaknesses and strengths, worries and fears; and everyone deep down, including the person in front of you now, wants to be liked, respected, acknowledged, and appreciated by the person he or she is with. To see the person in front of you as a human being just like you, and understand his or her most basic needs and drives restores that person to a manageable human size and removes the intimidation factor.

  • See yourself and the other person as two four-year-olds sitting on opposite ends of a nursery school seesaw, knowing that you will go up and down in turn, and knowing that’s okay. Enjoy the ride.
  • You can even picture the other party getting dressed in the morning and putting on their clothes as you did.
  • Having done some or all of the above, simply relax, release your fear, trust yourself, be fully present in this moment with the other person, smile if it’s appropriate to do and enjoy the negotiation process.

For all these reasons, this book does not teach or recommend intimidation as a negotiation tactic. But a great negotiator must understand and know how to deal with intimidation. For at some point, in some negotiation, you will find yourself either dealing with an intimidator, or feeling intimidated. And, working with these suggestions, you will know how to stand your ground and hold to your principles without succumbing to fear.


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