“This Is How To Avoid Trickery In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“Trickery hangs its hat where allowed. Don’t let someone hang trickery on you.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is How To Avoid Trickery In A Negotiation”

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

Trickery can cause you to rewrite your history or be the source of your forestalled future. In a negotiation, it can be the difference between a sad and smiley face outcome. That’s the con that it perpetrates on one’s mind. And while playful trickery can be a delight, residing in the funhouse of your imagination, when someone delivers it with sinister intent, it can distort your reality as though you were viewing it through a mirror that deforms your mind. Good negotiators, like magicians, know how to ply the trades of trickery. They do so to get you thinking of one thing while keeping you engaged long enough with distractions, to extract deals that under other circumstances you’d never accept. And that’s why you need to be wary of the negotiator that uses trickery against you. He can make your otherwise positive outcomes disappear. Here’s how to prevent that from happening to you.


When you think about your feelings during a negotiation, you have a strong ally. That ally is your intuition. When sensing something, a sense of foreboding, take note, and pay close attention to the sensation you’re experiencing. It can be the silent alarm summoning you to alertness.

Even if you can’t ‘put your finger’ on the source of your angst, don’t discount it. Your subconscious mind is attempting to grab your state of consciousness for a reason. That reason may be the opposing negotiator trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Or, he may be attempting to perform some other act of magic trickery. Whatever a negotiator intends of his efforts if they’re to your detriment, and you sense chicanery is his tool of choice, thwart him by letting him know that he’s shaded trust. Then, observe how he responds. If he wants to negotiate in earnest, he’ll be less cunning and more forthright.


Question: who pays for trickery in a negotiation? Answer: trust! Trust is a factor that’s incapable of being calculated spot-on. It lurks continuously in the background of your talks’, moving the silent levers of offers and counteroffers exchanged between negotiators. If a negotiator slanders the trust factor, he could be quickening the negotiation’s demise and his efforts for a more pleasing outcome.

Never dismiss out of hand the value of trust. And when you sense your negotiation counterpart is doing so, let your opponent know that you value relationships built on trust. Make him understand that he’s a partner in the efforts for an amicable negotiation outcome. And make him aware that the results will be in jeopardy if he abandons trust.


One of the more insidious uses of trust is gaslighting someone – causing the person to doubt their sanity or logic due to psychological manipulation. Manipulation occurs in every negotiation. That’s the essence of the talks. But there’s a way to acquire what you seek that doesn’t include creating mental doubt about one’s thought process that’s over the top. Thus, when you suspect a negotiator is attempting to gaslight you, bring the negotiation to a full stop! Snuff out the flames. If you allow him to continue his antics, not only could you be the worse per the outcome, that outcome could become the mental hammer that nails your lack of performance in future negotiations.


Another sign to observe when detecting someone’s trickery is the tone they use when they speak. The alteration of someone’s intonation can expose the clue that the person is experiencing discomfort. And that can be the signal that indicates they’re up to some form of trickery.

If you feel something’s wrong, question your negotiation counterpart. Worst-case scenario, the negotiator expresses resentment at your accusation. Best-case, he apologizes for what he terms a good-effort on his part and vows to eliminate such attempts moving forward. In either case, you will have recognized his efforts, which means you’ll be on alert for where other attempts might lead.   

Other Signs of Trickery

Depending on your level of negotiation expertise, you may be aware of the following gambits.

1. The other negotiator says, once you receive the item that we’ve negotiated, you’ll have 30 days to observe how well it works. Meanwhile, in the written agreement, it states, “the receiver will incur all return cost and pay a usage fee for the item.” Depending on those fees, it may be more beneficial to keep the item and suffer the cost, rather than returning it. Always read the written agreement of a negotiation thoroughly. It’s the covenant under which the negotiators will address what they negotiated.  And that covenant may differ from the rhetoric that outlined the deal.  

2. ‘The last one routine.’ There are many variations of this trick – someone said they were coming in to get it, but since you’re here, you can have it – I thought we were all out, but I just found one in the back – we just sold the last one, but we have one left that’s similar to the one you want, etc. Those ploys intend to make you sense a psychological loss. And once you’re in that state of mind, you’ll want to avoid another perceived loss. So, you take the thing that was closest to the thing that you wanted.

If you find yourself in a situation like one of the scenarios mentioned, don’t be too quick to accept the proposed offer. Instead, decline it and begin to exit the negotiation. Leaving the environment might be in the form of hesitantly saying, “well, that’s not what I want. So I think I’ll take a pass.” Then, observe what the offerer does. Worst-case scenario: He may say, I’m sorry we couldn’t do a deal. Best-case scenario: He may find what you want somewhere else or lower the substitute item’s price. In either case, you’ll have more insight into that person and the tactics he may use to move you to action.   


Any form of trickery can leave you disenchanted, disadvantaged, and dismayed in a negotiation. And that can lead to your defeat. To thwart the trickery efforts that a negotiator may attempt to use against you in your negotiations, be aware of bait-and-switch tactics, offers that appear too good to be true, and the sensations you have about an offer. Such signs could be your inner self attempting to protect you from outside efforts seeking to trick you. 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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