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How to properly deal with the angry 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)

7 The angry negotiator

Sometimes individuals will be triggered into anger or even rage during a negotiation. They may be angry because they see themselves losing the negotiation and want to turn the tide to seize the advantage. Or they may feel they are being cheated, mistreated, or disrespected, and their anger is a genuine reaction. Angry negotiators may be standing up for themselves and defending their territory, money, or reputation; or they may simply be bullies.

When dealing with an angry negotiator, you can walk away undiplomatically and end it, attempt a diplomatic postponement of the negotiation, or stay to try to salvage the negotiation by being the reasonable, conciliatory party. But do not fight fire with fire by retaliating with hostility and aggression.

If the other party in a negotiation flips into anger or rage, and they give you no chance to speak, respond, or explain, simply remain calm, reasonable, and non-reactive. It’s up to you whether to stay and let the storm blow past or leave. Either way, there’s no point in reacting or resisting their outburst. If their anger is a tactic to gain the upper hand, just sit there like a Buddha and witness the show. If their anger is a pretext for them to bail out of the negotiation, let them go, and good riddance! If their anger is genuine and they really want to be heard and understood, simply listen with the same calm attitude, meeting their gaze with good eye contact, until the storm passes. When it does, the power will shift in your favour. Your calm silence and steady presence will have given you authority in the situation.

When there is an opening to respond, let your words be carefully weighed, measured, and sincere. You can begin with a cautious, “Are you O.K.?” or “Can I respond?” or “Are you ready to have a conversation?” or “I can see you’re very upset. Can we talk about this calmly?” Or, if the mood of the negotiation is spoiled, you can say something like, “Why don’t we take a break and make an appointment for another day when we can start fresh?”

If you choose to stay and continue negotiating, begin again by finding benign common ground, a point on which there is mutual agreement. Keep the tone light and friendly, and allow their anger to subside. If possible, a little humour may ease the tension level. Gently move the negotiation to the next area of common agreement, one step at a time. If it feels right, you can appease them and reestablish good will by offering “a bone” of something you can afford to give. By steering the negotiation back on a positive track, you take subtle charge. They lost their cool and you remained calm and ushered them back to reason. Now the power is with you, and you can lead the negotiation step by step.

You can also use anger in a negotiation, but it’s best to use it only in exceptional circumstances, when it’s really justified – for instance, if someone has cheated you, lied to you, or betrayed you, and doesn’t want to make good. Then there’s nothing to lose, so you can “let it rip” – no holds barred. Your righteous indignation may make a difference; you may get justice from the unjust party. The relationship is probably over either way, so you might as well end it with both guns blazing. The other option, also respectable, is to simply cut your losses and walk away.


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