“This Is How To Bargain With Scary Negotiators” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Don’t become frightened by scary situations without knowing the source of your fear, less you be one from whom you’re hiding.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is How To Bargain With Scary Negotiators”

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

As soon as I saw him, I knew he’d be trouble. He looked like someone that could start an argument just by entering a room. He appeared smug and deadly. Without opening his mouth, I could tell he would be doubtful, degrading, demeaning, demanding, and would most likely attempt to leave me dumbfounded, and deflated. I thought, “he’s going to destroy me in the negotiation and leave me devastated.” He did appear to be devoted to being one scary negotiator. In my mind, he covered all the negative “D’s” in the dictionary. And he’d done all of that before our bargaining had begun. Have you ever had thoughts like that?  

What makes a negotiator scary? To be more specific, what characteristics does he display that cause you to become afraid? And, when are you most frightened of a scary negotiator? Before you enter a negotiation, you should have those answers well in hand and dealt with effectively, so they don’t trouble you.

The following are characteristics of negotiators that you may view as scary in your negotiations. In some cases, their persona is nothing more than a façade to manipulate you into falling under their negotiation spell. Thus, when you negotiate, be prepared to deal with negotiators displaying the following traits:


Some people may perceive the strict negotiator attempting to maximize his outcome as cheap, hard, or challenging. That may be due to his mannerisms, his façade, and his style of bargaining. Thus, when he haggles over the minutest of points to achieve his goal, you might be tempted to brand him as being scary. I would suggest you not apply that label because the name you assign to a person or situation classifies that entity. And that’ll influence how you act, react, and the frame of mind you place yourself in when doing so.

Instead of branding a negotiator with the moniker of cheap, view him as a person that wants the best deal he can get. Acknowledging his real trait will allow you to adopt better strategies from which to interact. Such stratagems as when you engage, to what degree you challenge him, and when you let him experience a win to feed his ego, are points you might consider. Adopting this mindset will also allow you to possess a clearer perception of the negotiator type you’re dealing with, which should reduce the impression of him being scary. 


A lying negotiator can be one of the most challenging types of negotiators. Part of that is due to not knowing when, or if, he’ll abide by an agreement. And the other aspects of concern are his claims and the points of truthfulness he attributes to them. To that end, you may be right in your subscription to him being scary. An old cliché states, “if you lie, you’ll cheat. And if you cheat, you’ll steal.” Be mindful when dealing with this negotiator type. Even when he appears to be abiding by the covenants of an agreed negotiation, he may be scheming behind your back to take from one pocket what he’s allowed you to put into the other.

To offset this type of negotiator’s fiendish mannerisms, negotiate slowly. Insert gaps into the negotiation whereby he has to bring forth what you agreed to in the session that just ended. Only then should you proceed to the next phase of the talks. And maintain a tight rein to prevent him from wreaking havoc.


“Crazy is, as crazy does,” is a longtime phrase used to denote the actions of someone that appears mentally misaligned. That’s a long way of saying, some negotiators feign characteristics of lunacy to exact sympathy as an emotional toll. He’s trying to use empathy as a way to get you to bond with him.

Once, I was riding a subway in NY City when a disheveled man came up to me and began behaving erratically. I wasn’t sure of his intent, so I adopted his mannerisms and projected them back to him. Since I read body language, I could tell he became puzzled. He looked at me for a moment and then moved on to other people.  

When dealing with negotiators portraying lunacy traits, you can act like them to see how they respond. If you sincerely believe they may not be using such mannerisms as a ploy, negotiate with a different negotiator. If that’s not an option, get them to document every aspect upon which you agree. Don’t leave any wiggle-room for future confusion.


Okay, now it’s time to get scary. Some negotiators, usually bullies, will attempt to use intimidation as their tool of choice. They may imply some form of bodily discomfort will befall you. They may even suggest that a blemish may occur to your reputation or others with whom you’re involved.

Be prepared to adopt one of three possibilities when dealing with this individual.

1. Seek to avoid him – deal with someone else.

2. If you must engage, project a tough-guy persona – don’t appear as someone that he can easily manipulate.

3. Call in your tough-guy group of negotiators to offset his persona. If he knows you have a crew to protect you, he’ll most likely drop his routine. 


The vengeful negotiator is someone that can also be scary in your bargainings. He may attempt to sully your reputation as his way of claiming recompense for whatever purpose that motivates him. The scariest aspect of dealing with this person is, you never know when his ill deeds will haunt you.

To best deal with this individual, stay away from his wrong side. Do that by being fair, which is something you should practice in all of your negotiations. If you end up on his ‘bad list,’ seek his understanding of how you wronged him. If possible, make amends. If not, keep an eye out for the misdeeds he may attribute to you as his way of evening the score.  


When you bargain with a negotiator, it can be scary. But that’s true in any situation when you don’t know what motivates someone’s actions. Once you identify the source of a scary negotiator’s motivation, you can adopt strategies to best bargain with him. 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

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