“Know These Powerful Trigger Secrets How To Increase Negotiation Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“A wise person avoids negative triggers, except when they attempt to be clever or unwise in using them.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Know These Powerful Trigger Secrets

How To Increase Negotiation Skills”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

How are your negotiations affected by triggers? You are negotiating, and everything is going according to your plans. Then, as though a switch flipped, the other negotiator becomes challengingly combative as the negotiation begins to erode. What happened? Was the opposing negotiator triggered? And if so, how might it have been avoided?

What follows will allow you to understand better how triggers influence negotiators’ behavior.

Ways To Identify Triggers

Triggers can cause unintended actions. That is one reason skilled negotiators pay close attention to the effects of triggers when negotiating. They do so because they know negotiators use triggers to maneuver opponents during negotiations, and they can be manipulated by triggers, too.  

So, how might you uncover someone’s triggers? You can do so when communicating with them and observing how they respond via their body language.

For example, if you witness someone scrunching their nose as though they smell something distasteful, most likely, there is a negative emotion associated with what you said. You might consider asking that person why they displayed that reaction.

If you have established a good rapport with the person, you can assure them that you have the best intentions during your dealings with them. Then, ask what triggers you should stay away from so as not to impede your discussions. Doing so will allow you to gain insight into what triggers to avoid.

How To Avoid Negative Triggers  

If you are negotiating and do not know anything about a person, how do you know what will trigger them? You look for signs about them in the environment in which you are negotiating.

For example, suppose you walked into an automobile dealership to purchase a vehicle. You might observe award plaques on the wall of the dealership noting the recognition they have received for the goals they have achieved. As you pose the question to the salesperson assisting you about their role in those achievements, they respond with a saddened tone and dropped face.

You most likely uncovered a sour thought in that person’s mind about those achievements. You may not know why that person feels that way about that subject, but it can be one to stay clear of to avoid negatively triggering them.   

Remember, most negative emotional triggers are associated with past occurrences. Thus, by uncovering a negotiator’s negative experiences, you will gain insight into what might cause them to react negatively to a trigger you invoke.  

How To Use Triggers To Advantage Your Position

As stated earlier, negotiators use triggers to enhance their position. The following are two ways they do that.

Citing Opposition’s Positive Attributes

You may be familiar with the phrase, buttering someone up. It means to charm someone with flattery.

When my skills were low as a negotiator, a car dealer’s manager told me I was a very good negotiator, tough but fair. I was bursting with pride! So, we agreed on the price of the car I wanted.

Then, he asked if I wanted an add-on service and told me he was discounting it because he knew how good of a negotiator I was. I said yes – I would purchase the add-on. You may be laughing at this point and calling me some unflattering names.

So what happened? The dealer praised me for the ‘hard’ bargain I drove. And then he triggered me by citing that reminder. Remember, he said he had already dropped the price because I was such a good negotiator. That set me up to purchase the add-on.

Just remember, triggering someone in this manner is best done using sincere praise. And you can do the same thing with your negotiation opposition. If you attempt to use false flattery, you risk failing fast.  

Triggering Negative Emotions

During negotiations, there may be times when you want to trigger your opponent’s negative emotions. You may want them to sense the displeasure they will experience if they do not adopt your proposal.

To do so, invoke memories of prior rejection associated with them not taking actions like you are proposing. Harp on their loss of control or the adverse treatment they received due to their wrong-decision making. And the best way to do that is to allow them to experience the sensations triggered by their negative emotions.  

Yes. Many challenges can arise when negotiators do not curb triggers. Thus, use them for multiple purposes to make them work best for you. For example, suppose you believe a particular negotiation situation requires a solicitation of empathy. In that case, you can trigger the emotion that would bring forth that desire in the other negotiator while having it appear that you are being empathetic too.

That would be a dual use of a trigger. And you can employ triggers to invoke many more emotions – such that they serve the purpose of the negotiation situation. Accordingly, when you plan your negotiation session, never discount the value and use of triggers.


Think about something that recently occurred that was very pleasant. Do you have a smile on your face? That is the effect of triggers; they alter one’s thoughts. And in a negotiation, that is what good negotiators do – use triggers to shift their opposition’s mind and the negotiation flow.

Yes. Many challenges can arise when negotiators do not curb triggers. To make them work best for you, use them to perform multiple purposes. Also, consider how you can make them flow as though they were in a playlist. That will boost your use of triggers, making them more potent and you more of a winner. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating! 

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