“Look – This Is What Containment Is Like In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Containment can be good, depending on who’s containing whom.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Look – This Is What Containment Is Like In A Negotiation”

He muttered softly aloud, “I feel restricted. I can’t maneuver nor implement the negotiation strategies that I’d planned to use. He’s keeping me contained within boundaries of which I was unaware.”

Since the time you were in your mother’s womb, you’ve fought containment. And containment continues to occur in many aspects of your life today. Sometimes containment is favorable, and sometimes it can be unfitting. Thus, when it’s in your favor, it provides shelter from harm. But if you’re the one contained in a negotiation, it can be very detrimental to your negotiation position. Nevertheless, you and the other negotiator engage in a constant dance throughout the talks to see who’ll come out on top of the containment battle. 

While containment can be useful, it can be constraining in a negotiation. And that may not necessarily help your negotiation efforts. What follows are insights about how containment occurs and why it can be so devastating.


You discover your negotiation efforts are restricted. Now, what do you do? Just because it’s occurring doesn’t mean you have to let it continue. That means, be mentally flexible with your thoughts and acceptance of new ideas while attempting to free yourself from containment.

By keeping an open mind, you open the doorway through which new ideas may enter. And if allowed life, you never know where that idea may take you. The end of the path may be freedom from containment. Now, let’s switch perspectives.

Sometimes, the caveat swallows the premise because you’re too affixed to the latter. Say what? That means, never close your mind to a warning because you believe it’s impossible. You may receive intuitive signals that something’s not right, situations closing in, etc. If there’s a probability of that occurring and you’re sensing it, based on the effects it might have on you, prepare to challenge a premise. The point is when negotiating, always be willing to reassess your position and perspective. Life is an ever-changing occurrence, and so it is when you negotiate.

Mind Control

Have you ever had your fortune told by a carnival fortune-teller? She looks for signs on your person to detect insights about you. As an example, if she observed that you were poorly dressed, she may have stated that she sensed you were dealing with challenging times. If viewing a faint lightness around your ring finger, she may have said that she sensed that you’d had some recent personal issues with a loved one, etc. After she made a few pronouncements that you agreed were accurate, you became more prone to accepting new assessments she made about your future.

A good negotiator uses some of the same tactics to endear himself to get you to bond with him. He knows, the more you bond with him, the more likely you are to agree and accept his proposals.

There’s another influencing factor at work, too. It’s called consistency. And it plays with your emotions. It does so when you think, well, she’s right about most things discussed so far, I might as well accept this. Don’t do that! Don’t let expectations get ahead of reality. Be aware of what’s moving you to action and where it’s leading. Being unaware can prove to be a trap from which it becomes difficult to extract yourself.


Speaking of mind control, be careful of what you believe. When negotiating, a good negotiator knows it’s easier to move her opposition to her point by getting him to agree with something he already believes. Thus, when she links a thought that he agrees with to her offer, he’s more apt to acknowledge and accept her proposal. And that’s why you should be aware of how someone can turn your beliefs against you.

Once you embrace an assumption as the truth, and one you believe in, you become prone to accepting other similar premises. Psychologists state that’s due to the consistency factor. Everyone wants to maintain consistency in what they’ve said or done in the past. Thus, they find inner conflict when they rebel against what was their current beliefs.

Hidden Commands

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of hidden commands you encounter every day? A good negotiator uses hidden or embedded commands frequently in a negotiation. It’s part of his containment strategy.

Look, buy, like, this is, are suggestive psychological words intended to move you to action. I used several of those words in the title of this commentary. And you may not be aware of their effect unless you’re mindful of the impact they’re having on you at the moment. To assure that they don’t manipulate you when you hear them, note when you hear them. Then, be prepared to confront their intent. By doing that, you’ll decrease the probability that you’ll be contained in an unwanted position by your counterpart.


In every negotiation, seek to give the other negotiator the feeling that she earned the concessions she received. She’ll respect you for that and value what she obtained with her talents versus the perception of a gift you gave her.

Therefore, when she attempts to tie you to her emotionally, understand that it’s another way for her to contain the emotions you have during the negotiation. And, by being mindful of containment throughout the negotiation, you can better dodge the pitfalls that might otherwise occur. That will allow you to be more successful in your negotiation efforts. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

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 “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com

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