“How To Negotiate More Effectively Against A Black Swan” – Negotiation Insights

“Negotiating against a devious black swan negotiator can be dangerous. But worse, is not recognizing the degree of his depravity.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“How To Negotiate More Effectively Against A Black Swan”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you negotiate, more than likely, you assume that you are dealing with someone that will abide by what he says. If he gives his word, your assumption is, it is good. But what happens when you are negotiating against a black swan, someone so devious that he will be manipulative and lie to sway you to adopt his will? You wonder, is negotiating with the devil any worse?

You can overcome the dastardly deeds of black swan negotiators in your negotiations. That is if you are so unfortunate to encounter one in the first place. And here is how to do that.

Definition Of Black Swan Negotiator

For this purpose, a black swan in a negotiation is that rare creature most negotiators never have to contend with. And most negotiators wallow in their serene bliss, never knowing the chaos that stems from dealing with such a person in one’s life.

A black swan is a manipulative, backstabbing, devious liar that cares about one thing – advancing his cause.  He will do so at any cost. And he will use you and anyone else in any way he deems necessary to reach his end goal. This person is dangerous! So, it would help if you were wary of the traps he will set to ensnare you in his hideous acts.

Avoiding Negotiation Black Swan Traps

Okay. You know this negotiator type is ruthless. He will set traps and involve other people that are not aware they are pawns in his game of charades. So, how might you thwart his efforts to entrap you?

1. Do not trust them!

If asked, do not move to the next negotiation phase if the swan has not delivered on his current promises. This person’s promises are only good until he can dupe you into another false belief. To keep him in check, make him deliver before moving on. And let him know his actions are what is causing you to adopt your position.

2. Be mindful of the black swan’s attempts to befriend you.

The first thing this negotiator type will do is position himself as a friend. He will do so because he needs you to believe he is trustworthy. And the common belief amongst most negotiators is, a friend will not betray you or his word. But the black swan has no moral compass. So, to negotiate effectively against him, be aware of his befriending efforts. That is his first seed of deceit.

3. Know the swan’s potential pawns.

Pawns may play roles in the black swan’s traps. Understand that these individuals may not know they are part of his farce. But more than likely, they will possess some form of power that can be used as leverage by the black swan against you.  

4. A black swan negotiator will attempt to keep you on defense.

Please do not allow him to do that. Deflect his negativity and be ready to confront him. Do that by challenging his assertions. And, when needed, become deceitful. You are at war when faced by a black swan negotiator. And all is fair in war.

Combating Negotiation Black Swans

1. Assess the seriousness of this person’s demeanor and to what degree he’ll negotiate from a position of depravity and indifference. To negotiate effectively, Know when to take a stance in defiance to the black swan’s negotiation style. At some point, you may need to stand up to his tactics. But the way and when you do so will determine how he will respond. Thus, make your first rebuttal stern. Make him sense a power shift has occurred. Sometimes, the only way to gain a black swan’s respect is to defy him.

2. Have the swan’s supporters disavow him. I suggested you identify who the swan might use in his negotiation plots. Consider doing that because having that information will allow you to know whom you should target. As was also stated, some individuals may be unaware of the role they are playing.

Once identified, make a concerted effort to wedge them from the swan. You can do that by making the swan’s abetters aware of his actions and stressing how he uses them as pawns in his deceptive techniques.

It would be helpful if you also pointed out how unethical he was. To the degree you can separate the swan’s allies and supporters, the greater will be your opportunity to combat and control him. Be aware that timing will play a critical role in your efforts. So, strike as quickly as possible once you have identified those that are part of his plans.  


Negotiating with a black swan is unlike what you might classify as typical negotiations. Even when negotiating with someone who is intolerable and obstinate, most likely, you have never negotiated with a blistering, predatory negotiator type such as his. Thus, you must be vigilant to seize any opening opportunities that he lets slip and advantage your position by turning a weakening moment into an unbalancing reality of his. Vigilance is always good for the soul.

So, to negotiate effectively, remember with whom you are dealing when negotiating against a black swan. If you do not allow the black swan’s devious actions to lull you into a false sense of security, you will decrease the probability of becoming overwhelmed by them. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

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