We all have our negotiation styles and there is no perfect or optimum style. However certain individuals seem to think that an aggressive style will let them get their way. So what do you do if you end up across the table from a really aggressive negotiator who is angry, a bully, or aggressive? Here are a few ways to tame the savage beast.
First let them run on until they run down. Don’t interrupt them just sit quietly and look at them. If they don’t run down, then you need to bring their tirade to a screeching halt. Say one of the following to them depending on the position you are going to take.
“You may be right in what you are saying.” This is a non-threatening response that should prevent a further outburst. After all, you did agree with them. Well no, but you have opened the door to explore their point on a more rational or less emotional basis.
“You are probably right.” This will also stop them in their tracks. If you are certain that what they are saying is correct, then acknowledge it.
“If I were in your position, I think I would feel the same way.” This statement is a confirmation to the other person that you heard their message, but you do not think there is any possibility that they are correct. Follow this up with why you have taken the opposing position. Remember that confirming that you heard the message does not mean that you agree with it.
Since you are defusing the situation here are three more points. First do not attack the other person or their position. This is only going to inflame them and they will go on the attack again. Second, do not defend yourself or your stated concerns and needs. Finally keep the dialogue going. If you have to deal with this person, continue the discussion. What they want to hear is that they are right. A lot of times, they are focused on one issue that they want to be right on and will give on other issues to obtain that end. Finding that issue and trying to resolve it while gaining other concessions can help you achieve your goal. Remember that you have as much power as they do. If not, they would not be at the negotiation table.
If the other party persists, call a break and assess where you are and whether you can or need to continue. Some things to think about are whether there is a personality conflict, can you change negotiators; is there an ally on the other side that can help temper this person? Are you being gamed (good cop, bad cop)? Is this someone you really want to do business with?
Figure a strategy, and go back into negotiations and see how it works. If you feel that it is impossible, then start your walking away strategy that was recommended in a previous blog (http://businessnegotiationservices.com/?p=1606).
Dealing with aggressive negotiators is a challenge, but you can disarm them and still achieve the agreement you want.