“This Is How To Attack Difficult Choices In Negotiations” – Negotiation Insight

“Never allow a difficult choice to become more challenging due to the choices you make.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

Click here to get the book!

“This Is How To Attack Difficult Choices In Negotiations”

People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating.

Negotiations can become complicated when presented with difficult choices. But you can attack those difficulties by being cunning, beguiling, and using a little lateral thinking. The following is how you can accomplish that.


When confronted by difficult choices, you can use flattery to mislead the other negotiator to delude, or eliminate, the worst of the less pleasing options. To initiate this tactic, assess what your negotiation counterpart may be seeking from the offers. Smart negotiators use red-herrings in their offers to give the impression that components within them contain a value. In reality, some don’t contain much importance at all. He uses them as throw-away bargaining chits.

To implement the use of flattery, let the other negotiator know you suspect his ruse with red-herrings. Call him on it. Even if you’re wrong, you will awaken the wonderment within him about your sharpness. While he’s making those calculations, casually ask him to withdraw the most difficult choices. Now, here’s where the turn occurs. If he asks for a concession in return, offer him your red-herrings. If he says no to your offer, you’ve stalemated him. At that point, both of you will have difficult decisions to address. Ask how he’d like to resolve it. When he makes a suitable offer, accept it. Through your cunning, you will have removed the most difficult choices at that point. From there, wash, rinse, repeat.    

Subliminal Signaling

Another way to attack difficult choices is by using subliminal signaling. You’d use it to eliminate addressing the decisions you wish to avoid. The power of subliminal signaling, in this case, can be in the form of the words you use to describe situations or the visual aids you use in the environment, or both.

As an example, let’s say you’re negotiating for the purchase of a yacht. It has all of the options you want. But the terms are horrendous. The salesperson states that he can deliver a smaller boat to you, but it doesn’t have the options you want. So, the choices the salesperson offers are, you accept the horrendous terms and get the yacht, or accept a boat with options you don’t want and get better terms. If you’re wondering why a dealer might engage in such practices, it could be to get you to help him move his inventory (i.e., get rid of a boat that’s been there too long.) That’s worth noting because it’s something you can use as leverage against him.

At that point, as the buyer, you’re left with two decisions, of which neither are appealing. In the example presented, the salesperson has used two subliminal signals to sway your perspective. In one instance, you’re purchasing a yacht – in the other; you’re buying a boat. If you knew you had leverage, due to his need to move inventory, you could say, if those are your best offers, I don’t think we’ll be able to make this deal. It’s sunk (subliminal signal). Then, prepare to leave. If your insight about his need to move inventory is correct, he’ll most likely make the terms better to prevent losing a sale.    

This technique works to eliminate making unpopular decisions. Your task is to determine how to use it in your negotiations. Each negotiation will be different. Thus, you’ll have to alter the implementation of this technique based on the situation. But, once you master its use, you’ll have an ally that you can use in all aspects of your life.  

Value Perception

It’s not the value of what you have that counts; it’s the perception of its value. When addressing difficult choices, how you control the offers and counteroffers will determine the degree of success you’ll have. Thus, the order in which you make proposals impact those that follow. And that affects the degree that a choice may become easier to address or more difficult.

To enhance the process of making difficult decisions appear less challenging to the opposing negotiator, create the environment in which he can obtain what he wants most. Let such offers teeter on the factor of time. That will increase his sense of urgency to acquire what he seeks. By doing that, you’ll silently convey that he’s in control of his destiny. And that sense of empowerment will make it more likely that he’ll elevate his decision past the point of difficulty.

Avoid Charades

You can avoid some problematic situations by knowing when to address a genuine concern and knowing when to pass by others. They’re times when good negotiators will create the impression of challenging circumstances as a way to divert your attention. Such charades can be the attempt to draw your attention away from a hidden point that you’re too close to uncovering, or one that he’s not prepared to disclose. And there is a distinguishable difference between those two aspects. That aspect is timing.

As stated prior, the timing of an offer impacts the probability of its acceptance. Thus, if you’re too close to uncovering plots that the other negotiator doesn’t want to disclose, you’ll lessen its impact if he decides to implement it. The point of the matter is, be quick to spot charades and be mindful of how you address offers and counteroffers. By doing so, you’ll attack some problems before they have the opportunity to gain strength, and in turn, you’ll avoid difficult choices.     


It can be challenging to win negotiations when confronted with difficult choices – especially if the other negotiator doesn’t mind losing a point due to those choices. To attack difficult decisions that arise in your negotiations, be aware of the ones that are real, those that cast the perception of being real, and the intent they’re meant to achieve. By having that insight, you’ll have a better opportunity to control the flow of the negotiation. That, in turn, will give you more control over difficult choices, which will lead to better outcomes. 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/

Scroll to Top