“How To Use The Best Competitive Strategies In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“Ashes gave the Phoenix a new life. But it’s the actions that occur after a resurrection that keeps one from returning to the fire.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“How To Use The Best Competitive Strategies In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you’re in a tough negotiation, how competitive are you? How about when you’re in one that’s not as competitive? Do you ease-up on your competitiveness?  Depending on your ferocity to maximize the negotiation outcome, you may choose to use competitive strategies to enhance that probability. The following are a few competitive strategies you can use to do that.  

Classifying Strategies

They’re different kinds of strategies you can use in a negotiation. Some will be nullifying, some will be mollifying, and some will be confrontational. If they’re used and applied strategically in the proper manner, the application of those strategies will make you more competitive. Thus, their use will be beneficial in your negotiation process. The following are three negotiation strategy classifications and how to use them.

Nullifying Strategies

Guilt can nullify a negotiator’s advantage in a negotiation. The way to do so can occur from multiple perspectives. In this case, you’d instill it to advantage your disadvantaged position in the talks.

I recall a situation when a bully threatened to beat up a guy. The bully kept egging the other person on – taunting him with such words as, “are you afraid that I’ll kick your butt?” Finally, the guy said, “No. I’m not afraid,” as he exposed his stumped arm. Guilt shamed the bully for having taunted the man. And the bully backed out of that situation by apologizing.    

You can use similar tactics even if you’re not missing part of a limb to nullify a negotiator’s position. To do so, prepare for possible situations you might encounter in the negotiation. Then envision problems that would call for the use of this strategy and have retorts ready to implement. The more potential problems you think of, the more responses you’ll have as ammunition in your arsenal.

Mollifying Strategies

When attempting to mollify a negotiator, you must know the personality type with whom you’re negotiating. That’s because some negotiators will perceive your mollifications as signs of weakness. And if they sense that, they can become more increasing in their demands. The point to remember is, you’ll have to be tough and hold your ground with some negotiators. With other counterparts, you can use mollifying strategies to gently nudge them down the path upon which you wish them to engage. And with others, you’ll employ a mixture of both.

So, what strategies might you employ to mollify the other negotiator? With the rigid negotiator type, the one who feels he can only win if you lose, make him earn your concessions. He’s the type with whom you can’t make the negotiation too easy. He’ll pound you by making more and increasing requests for concession accommodations. To mollify him:

1. Be slow to make concessions – make him feel like he earned them.

2. Test him by making conditional offers (e.g., if I do this, will you do that?).

3. Maintain your guard – Don’t ease up on your hard stance unless you’re sure he’s easing up too. He may feign compliance to lull you into a false sense of security. And if you fall for it, he may quickly switch back to his more inflexible demeanor.

Mollifying the easy-going negotiator as implied can be less daunting than the rigid negotiator type. Still, you must be mindful of the negotiation’s mood and the direction in which it’s moving. Thus, the strategy to employ with this type of negotiator is:

1. Cast a non-threatening posture. You want to project the endearment of trust.

2. Encourage him to make offers that you can build on.

3. Let him perceive that he’s leading the negotiation and you’re following his lead. That’ll make him feel more comfortable, which will make the negotiation less competitive.

Confrontational Strategies

Confrontation in any negotiation can be its death knell. Thus, you must be aware of when rancor occurs. In some cases, that may cause either negotiator to withdraw from the strategy they’re engaging in, making the negotiation harsher. Therefore, if you must become confrontational, consider these steps.

1. Initially, apply the amount of pressure that’s called for at a specific point in the negotiation. And consider the consequences before ratcheting up tensions.

2. Assess the root cause of the tensions in the negotiation. Assess if they stem from the perception of what was said or if they originate from another source. Don’t be misled by errant thoughts that cause you to inject angst into a negotiation needlessly.

3. Attempt to maintain proper decorum even as you confront the other negotiator. You can be stern and appear to be pleasant. But if your stern and unpleasant, the other negotiator will be less likely to respond from an amenable perspective. Instead, he’ll most likely dig in his heels and become more intense in combating you.        

Body Language Confirmation

When seeking feedback per the effect that your strategy may be having, observe the other negotiator’s body language to gauge its impact. In particular, note if he becomes fidgety, and his voice tonality and cadence alters between high and low pitches accompanied by uneven breathing or any display of exasperation. Such signs will serve as announcers of the mental state of mind your counterpart is experiencing. Depending on your negotiation strategy, you can calm or intensify your actions. Be sure to use your gut instincts too. They’ll help guide your actions.   


A negotiation can become exceedingly competitive if you don’t use strategies to control them. And a lack of control can cause negotiators to increase their competitiveness. If you wish to become more competitive in your negotiations, use the proper strategies at the appropriate time. That can help to illuminate a ray of hope in the midst of darkness. 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

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