“There Are Amazing Advantages In Chaos In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Chaos is another form of order. It awaits the astute to exploit it to their advantage.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“There Are Amazing Advantages In Chaos In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you find yourself in a chaotic negotiation, how do you react to the chaos? Do you shrink from it, or do you have a different reaction? How about your counterpart? How does he respond to chaos? There are unique advantages to using chaos in a negotiation. And here’s how to use it to your advantage.

Assessing Chaos’ Usage

No negotiator responds to chaos like another. Thus, to enhance your negotiation position, first, assess your counterpart’s ability to handle disorder. And to do that, you must probe his mind to get reactions from him. Some negotiators will shrink from chaos, and some will fight you tooth and nail. And, unless you know which personality type you’re negotiating with, you run the risk of employing the wrong strategy. Follow these suggestions to assess better the proper approach to use.

1. Probing

In probing, depending on the personality type you’re engaging, you might feign irritation with a point or statement your opposition has raised. You may even consider having more of an outraged response to test the other negotiator’s degree of fortitude to push-back on your actions. The probes’ purpose is to make him respond – give you insights about his demeanor and personality type.

2. Sensing

Once you initiate your probing efforts, take note of what you sense. In particular, note if you see a negotiator attempting to control his inner emotions. That’ll indicate that he may not be prone to lashing out at you in an uncontrollable manner. It may also suggest that he’s calculating his response. Note if he aligns his body language gestures with his pronouncements. If there’s a disconnect between the two, that may indicate your probing is having its effect.

3. Response

Based on how your opponent responds to your probing and what you sense of his response, increase the intensity, or lower it. Then, observe what he does in return. Observe if he becomes relaxed (i.e., slouches if sitting or standing) or becomes more erect. You’ll also gain clues to his feelings based on his voice intonation and the types of words he uses in his response. If he begins to use collaborative words (i.e., we, us, ours), that may indicate that he’s complying with your tactics. On the other end, if he begins making statements with words such as I, mine, your, he may not be under the control that your efforts are seeking. Thus, it may be more challenging to achieve that outcome. Or, you may have to repeat the process and intensify your efforts.    

Chaos’ Intent and Awareness   

A negotiator can plan to use chaos in a negotiation as a negotiation tool he’ll employ during the discussions. Thus, you must prepare yourself for how you’ll respond once his chaotic onslaught begins. That means you must be aware of his intent in using this tool and when he employs it in the negotiation. It would help if you’d adopted a strategy ahead of time per how you’ll respond. The point is, don’t let chaos sway you away from your negotiation plans as the result of not being prepared to confront it.

Okay. Now you know how to consider the defense of chaos, how might you use it to advantage your position. Now consider this:

1. Cause and Effect

Depending on the negotiator type, hardcore (confrontational), softcore (go along to get along), or one in the middle (I’ll go forth until doing so doesn’t serve me), you need to adopt a degree of chaos that’ll motivate that individual to assume the action you wish him to take. For every action, there’s a reaction. Your task is to uncover the activity that’ll make him react in a manner that serves your purpose.

2. Linear vs. Non-Linear Chaos

Like the temperature, negotiators have a range to chaos tolerance. Thus, you must assess if you should linearly use chaos to achieve your goals or if doing so should occur in a non-linear manner. In a linear usage, you’d continuously build on your use of turmoil that you initiate at some point in the negotiation. And you’d not subside your usage until you’d gain an advantage per the end you seek. In non-linear use, you’d increase tensions, relax them, and then increase them again, based on the need to do so. 

Consciousness and Chaos

There’s another aspect of chaos to ponder when considering how you might employ its use. And that’s the speed and intensity at which you’ll do so. You may be aware of the proverbial frog placed in a boiling pot of water. At first, because the water’s temperature is so low, the frog doesn’t realize that the heat is increasing. The frog is comfortable and doesn’t become alarmed as the heat intensifies. He doesn’t attempt to escape. Before long, his goose is cooked (pun intended) – he’s been trapped by his environment.

Like the frog scenario, you can ensnare the other negotiator in your negotiation by increasing the degree of chaos you instill in it at moderate degrees. The effect would be to keep him unaware of what’s occurring. And while he may have a sense of being uncomfortable, he won’t take action to challenge his uneasiness until he’s reached a bending point to your requests. When you weaponize chaos as a tool in a negotiation, always consider the degrees at which you’ll implement its usage. Therein may lie the amount of success you’ll have in doing so.


It would help if you were mindful of how you use chaos in a negotiation. Because in negotiation, chaos can be your friend. It can also become your nemesis. The determining factor will be how you use it as your ally and the other negotiator’s response. If you attend to those aspects appropriately, you’ll be in a stronger negotiation position to command more concessions. That empowerment will also allow you to control the negotiation better. 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

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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