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Are you negotiating with a manipulator?

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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)

16 The manipulator

Manipulation is not necessarily bad; it’s an essential part of every negotiation on both sides. But anything can be taken too far, and even a necessity can become a vice. So it is with manipulation. It’s fine and necessary up to a point; both parties in a negotiation are trying to manipulate each other to achieve their own objectives. But the negotiator referred to here manipulates in ways that undermine the possibility of genuine rapport and long-term business partnerships with the other party.

The manipulator’s primary goal is to get you to do what he or she wants you to do, whether it is in your best interest or not. You can tell a manipulator because you feel under pressure in that person’s presence, and that pressure feels steady and uncomfortable, even when it is subtle. The manipulator is all about pushing you over the finish line, getting you to sign on the dotted line. The manipulator thrives when the other party feels a little uncertain or unqualified.

Manipulators are one step away from being con artists. Occasionally they may be con artists. They are never as simple or straightforward as they may appear. They are always working an angle, and always looking out for Number One. They can be subtle, crafty, and devious, or blunt, obvious, and intimidating.

A subtle manipulator often tries to persuade the other party using a mixture of positive and negative pressure. They may use a mixture of flattery and coercion. Or they may try to confuse you with information or a pitch designed to provoke your anxiety or insecurity, or make you feel uncertain or unqualified. They may pressure you with the force of their own personality, bombarding you verbally or even standing too close as a means of subtle intimidation. But, whatever they do, they are always trying to corner you into making a decision you’re not ready to make.

Blunt, obvious, or intimidating manipulators are best avoided. The good thing about them is that they are easier to spot than subtle, crafty, devious manipulators. The bad thing is that they are often in positions of authority or influence, so you may have to deal with them to get what you want. Bribery, corruption, and veiled or open threats are common tactics used by these types. Manipulators can work well with each other, but people who prefer to negotiate on a more civil and honourable basis prefer to have nothing to do with them.

Manipulation via threats is negotiation in its darkest form. At the very least it amounts to a kind of extortion. At its worst, it is tantamount to violence. It is the imposition of self-centered and even ill intent on another party with complete disregard for their interests and well-being. It turns a negotiation into warfare.

When dealing with an obnoxious manipulator, the best thing to do is call a spade a spade. A simple “don’t manipulate me,” said in a firm tone with strong eye contact can often shift the balance of power. You may have them backtracking smartly, looking for a more reasonable way to sway you to their point of view. But if the manipulator persists in bad behaviour, the best thing you can do is pack up your briefcase and go.


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