“How To Be Startling To Win More Negotiations” – Negotiation Insights

“Before startling someone, consider what they may do while in that state.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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How To Be Startling To Win More Negotiations

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Your wanton actions could have killed the negotiations, said the first negotiator. If that’s true, it’s like people; they die every day because that’s life, responded the second negotiator. Both negotiators had attempted to shift the perspective of the other by making a startling statement. They did so because they knew the shock value that surprising comments or questions could have on a negotiation. Were you aware of that fact? Do you know how to use startling statements or questions to improve your negotiation position? Continue to gain greater awareness about using mind-shifting comments that you can use to enhance your negotiation efforts.

Startling Statements Definition In Negotiations

A startling statement or question in a negotiation is one whose purpose attempts to redefine, refute, confute, or confound the opposing negotiator’s position. It carries an attempt to control the mind of the other negotiator and the negotiation’s flow.

Why Startling Statements Impact Negotiations

Startling comments shifts the focus of a negotiator’s mind. It’s akin to moving one’s mind from one track of thinking to another. Accordingly, if a negotiator said, “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – it’s a train, the lights are red, and the train is moving away,” it would shift the mindset of the other negotiator.

Depending on when a negotiator said that, initially, one might think a positive reference was about to be made. By the fact that the opposite occurred, the statement may have startled the opposition to adopt other measures to gain control of the negotiation. Regardless of its perception, the startling declaration would have had its intended effect – to alter the other negotiator’s mind and the negotiation’s flow. 

How To Rebut Startling Statements

You’ve been assailed by a startling comment or question, now what? What might you do? You can:

1. Ignore them

It may behoove you to act as though your counterpart never made a statement in some situations. By ignoring it, you nonverbally invite the other negotiator to ignore or expand on her pronouncement. If she ignores it, the message received is, it wasn’t that important – move on. 

2. Suggest you’ll address statements later

Another consideration is acknowledging your opposition’s comments and stating you’ll handle them later. Once again, the response to your statement will reveal the importance of what your counterpart said. If there’s insistence about you responding, you might pleasantly inquire why it’s vital at that time to do so. Addressing the situation this way will gain you more insights while momentarily avoiding addressing the matter.

3. State something more startling or outlandish

In preparation for any negotiation, consider the offers, statements, and rebuttals you’ll encounter. Then, create your counter-responses. When confronted by unanticipated occurrences during the talks, think how you might return the favor by offering startling propositions of your own. You don’t have to base them on facts. Gear your efforts towards diminishing what your opponent has thrust against you.

Things To Be Mindful Of About Startling Statements

A startling statement can be logical, falsely outlandish, foolhardy, or completely illogical. Nevertheless, a shocking pronouncement in any form will impact a negotiation. The shift that moves the conversation away from one matter and towards another is what you must observe. To do otherwise is to miss essential aspects of the negotiation’s potential possibilities. To overcome distractions, be aware of:

1. Getting caught-up in the exploration of logic

  • If it’s not broken, why fix it?
  • We’ve always done it that way, and it’s worked for us.

While both of the prior observations may be true and not as startling as some statements that others might hear, they omit a significant factor. Both could be false premises. The comments may be accurate, but that doesn’t discount the fact that improvements could enhance something that’s not broken. The same is correct about refining a routine that’s always been done a particular way and improving it.

2. Getting caught-up in the lack of logic

As stated, startling statements don’t have to be within the realm of logic. Some of the most shocking words can defy logic. And the more shock a comment delivers, the more likely your mind will become drawn to it. That’s why you must become highly conscious of when they occur. If you’re not, you might find yourself down a rabbit hole chasing the imagination of a rabbit.

How And When To Use Startling Statements

Employing startling statements should be used as a doctor would use a scalpel – with precision. If you employ this tool indiscriminately, you will alter the flow of negotiations. But you might not be able to control the direction in which the negotiation moves. And that could prove to be costly.

Consider using startling statements when you’re in dire positions and need to alter the negotiation due to the other negotiator’s advantage. Even then, it would be helpful to measure the potential gain. If you don’t think the benefits outweigh the risk, bypass using this tool until a better time presents itself. Don’t waste this tool by being haphazard.


A shock applied in negotiations will alter it. That’s without a doubt. And you can use startling statements to amplify the astonishment that this tool can bring about. Once you realize the power in this negotiation instrument and learn how and when to employ it correctly, you’ll increase your dynamism at the negotiation table. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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