“How To Negotiate More Better Deals Fearless Of Bully Harm” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“A bully bases his degree of success on your degree of fear.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“How To Negotiate More Better Deals

Fearless Of Bully Harm”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

“… well, what’s the worse he can do – change the world order?” “No. But he can change and control our world,” was the reply. “That’s what a bully does – he likes to control you.” That was an exchange between two individuals that found themselves negotiating with a bully. They had just taken a break from the berating their negotiation counterpart had delivered.

When you negotiate with tough negotiators, how do you separate their tactics from those a bully uses? That is an important question to ponder. Because when you negotiate with a bully, it is advisable to utilize different tactics than if you were negotiating with someone that was just a tough negotiator.

What follows is how to assess the degree that a negotiator is a bully. You will also discover strategies you can employ against bullies in your negotiations.

Bully Versus Tough Negotiator

It is always good to know and understand the person’s mindset with whom you are negotiating. Doing so gives you greater insight into what motivates them and moves them to adopt the actions they take. And from that deduction, you can create more appropriate negotiation strategies. 

Question: What separates someone classified as a tough versus a bully negotiator? Answer: It is how someone negotiates, along with your personal feelings. And the way someone deals is subjective. Therefore, someone perceived to be a bully or a tough negotiator depends on you – each of us makes our assessment about that.

Bully Characteristics

All bullies possess similar characteristics. I suggest you observe the degree a bully exhibits the following traits. That will allow you to gauge how far a bully might employ his tactics. The following are a few to note.

Bullies Seek Power

Most bullies want a degree of power over those with whom they negotiate. And, since power is perceptional, you have it if you think you have it. You can position yourself to allow the bully to think he has it. Regardless, understand why a bully seeks a superior position over you, what he plans to do with it, and who promotes him.

Fear In Others Emboldens Bully

Some bullies become emboldened when they sense fear in their opposition. That motivates the bully to forge forward, sometimes recklessly.  Accordingly, manage your outward appearance and inner feelings of anxiety when dealing with a bully. Do not give him the fuel needed to use against you.

Lack of Rationality

When dealing with rational negotiators, you can more accurately predict their actions, not so with a bully. A bully can display abandonment for rationality. And that can make dealing with him more challenging. To curtail a bully’s lack of rationality, attempt to have him justify why his lack of rationality is rational. The more you do so, the more excellent the opportunity to shift his paradigm towards realism.

Feeling Superior

A bully wants to and needs to feel superior. To challenge him when you lack power may be deadly. So, where and when possible, let the bully sit on his superior perch. Doing so will allow you to wreck his mental attitude when you display fearlessness and knock him off that perch.

Negotiation Strategies To Use Against Bullies

When negotiating with a bully, understand the dynamics that may occur. In particular, note the environment in which you have the proceedings and who is privy to them – be they in-person or not. In addition:

Know Bully’s Potential Weakness

Always seek to uncover a bully’s weaknesses; you can gain power from that. If you understand a bully’s mindset, that will give you more insight into how to interact with him. And knowing his mindset will disclose his points of vulnerability.

Address/Threaten Bully’s Supporters

Sometimes, it is not the bully you need to worry about; his supporters can be more threatening to the negotiation. Thus, it may behoove you to intimidate his supporters in your efforts to combat the bully. Let them know they have a stake in losing something in the negotiation.

Consider Negotiation Venue

Think of strategic advantages you can gain when negotiating with a bully. In some situations, the venue itself can become a variable that adds to your advantage. Thus, think about how you might fare in:

Face-To-Face Negotiations

In this venue, you can use intimidating tactics that may cause a weakening on a bully’s façade (e.g., you being more assertive, taller, and able to stare him down) – when you opt for this venue, limit who will be in attendance. The more people involved in a negotiation, the higher the risk of losing control due to someone’s unanticipated actions.


You can always have a blend of face-to-face, virtual, and email exchanges during negotiations. But be mindful as to the impact that either will have on the other. In some situations, a bully may think he is intimidating you, which is why you have altered means of communication – that’s his mindset. And as stated, to control a bully, you must attempt to control his mind.


Yes. A bully feeds on your fear during negotiations. But now, you can limit the psychological harm he might cause you by projecting more confidence and using negotiation strategies to keep his efforts at bay. Thus, you now have insights to do so and thwart his attempts to maneuver you through his dastardly tactics.

Suffice it to say, to combat a bully, make your appearance less fearful. That will keep him off balance and not knowing when to attack you. And use negotiation strategies that protect your outlook of the negotiation. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating! 

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