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Avoid this type of negotiator

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 second section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the 26 different personality traits of negotiators you are likely to encounter in the course of your negotiating career are identified. Over the next few weeks we will recommend ways of dealing with each type of negotiator.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

2 The adversarial negotiator

Adversarial negotiating is perhaps the lowest, most unpleasant, and least effective form of negotiating, and it takes a heavy toll on all parties. Perhaps the only appropriate places for adversarial negotiators are court trials, where aggression on the part of prosecutors and defence attorneys can be raised to the level of high art. The adversarial negotiator is also encountered in settlements between embittered or estranged parties, as in divorce proceedings and/or tenant- landlord disputes. But you may encounter adversarial negotiators in other venues as well.

Adversarial negotiators, especially outside a courtroom, often have emotional or psychological problems or anger management issues, which they vent strategically and often inappropriately in a negotiation. An adversarial negotiator easily crosses into overtly aggressive and even hostile behaviour. They usually start with unrealistic demands or very low offers. They hide and manipulate information, and have little or no conscience if found out. They may resort to abusive behaviour or even threats of consequences, if you don’t give them what they want on their terms. They will exploit any power that they might have to get their way. They are often huge risk takers. They are arrogant and persistent in their demands. They are generally unpleasant to negotiate with or be around.

At the extreme, adversarial negotiators may seem, or even be, sociopathic. Their goal is not only to win but for you to suffer loss. It’s generally best if you can avoid dealing with this type of negotiator. As soon as you recognise one, walk away, if you can. But they are crafty and may put on a friendly face to draw you into the negotiation, playing Jekyll before Hyde appears. If you are forced to deal with people like this, try to soften the blow by finding common interests and beliefs, and, if there are any, common values with which to build a bridge. Keep the banter light and humorous, if possible. Do not be confrontational; don’t engage them if they become confrontational. There is nothing they love more than a fight, and a fight with an adversarial negotiator almost never serves your best interests. So don’t let yourself be provoked; stay as calm, relaxed, and detached as possible.

Be calm and reasonable when addressing their points, and try to keep the focus of the negotiation as much as possible on your points. They will challenge your facts and credibility, so make sure your facts are provable, and make your case as airtight as possible. Don’t become emotional and avoid emotional issues at all costs. Clearly state that you are looking for a win/win solution and do your best to get one. Then grab what you can live with and beat a hasty retreat.

Remember that adversarial negotiators are often hostile people whose anger is deep-rooted. So don’t try to make them your friends, and don’t confront them unless you want a good fight or are ready to blow up the deal and walk away.


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