“Negotiating With Difficult People Can Be Costly and Weird”

 

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Have you observed the cost you incur when negotiating with difficult people? Negotiating with such people can be weird from several perspectives.

First, there’s the mental anguish of interacting with them. Next, there’s the physical anxiety that manifest itself in the form of stress. Then, there’s the ‘time wasted’ factor due to the mental agility they subject you to.

Depending on the relationship you have with such people, if you deal with them efficiently you can expedite the negotiation process and get back to normalcy.

The following is a simplistic formula for negotiating with difficult people.

 

Determine the value of the difficult person:

  • Some people are difficult to negotiate with because of the way they see themselves. They have the mindset of someone that wants to be catered to because of their perceived status, or for whatever reason they deem the need to elevate themselves. With this mindset, they may take a, ‘I win/you lose’ approach to the negotiation. When dealing with such a person, acknowledge the perceived self-status they possess. Only do so to the degree that you don’t put yourself in a compromising position that’s difficult to recover from. Part of your assessment lies in determining the value they have of you, your organization, etc. Once you make your determination, move to the next step.

 

Assess what to do to/with them:

  • After you’ve determined their value, create several options that might be feasible to alter the negotiation’s path. This can be from kowtowing to being extremely rude (i.e. sometimes standing up to such a person is all that’s needed to bring them back in line). Depending on the thoughts you’ve generated to address the situation, the solution will lay somewhere between the boundaries. I’d suggest you not implement your softest or harshest option, because that would not leave you room to move past that point in either direction. Plus, you want to give nonverbal signals as to the negotiation direction which you’re prepared to move, based on the response the difficult person displays (i.e. if they begin to move in the ‘right’ direction, you can be nicer). Keep in mind that you can reflect their behavior, too. Some difficult people may not realize the behavior they’re displaying until they see it mirrored back. Once they sense it from you, they may soften their demeanor.

 

Get difficult people out of your environment/life:

  • Once you have them under control, seek to reach the end of the negotiation as quickly as possible. Get them out of your environment. One reason you want to expedite them is due to the fact that in a negotiation some difficult people will use a harsh demeanor as a way to test your pressure points to see how you’ll react to their omnipotence. Then, they’ll soften their position, only to apply that negative demeanor at another time. In essence, they’ll be playing a version of ‘good cop, bad cop’ with themselves in both roles. You won’t know if it’s Jekyll or Hyde that you’re dealing with until they display their real demeanor, which may only be that demeanor for the time it takes them to shift characters again.

 

While you may have to make several attempts to bring a difficult person in line, once you effectively deal with them, you’ll feel better at the outcome of the negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.

 

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

 

 

 

 

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