“This Is How To Not Negotiate With A Bully” – Negotiation Insight

Bullies bully those that bow to the bully’s power. Thus, your actions determine if you’re the object or objection of a bully.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is How To Not Negotiate With A Bully”

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

Negotiations can be difficult when certain personality types are competing against one another. Add the perception of one of the negotiators feeling bullied, and you have a volatile mix of perceived antagonism, backed up by, “oh no you won’t” – the adopting of a ‘dig in your heels’ negotiation on both sides. And that lack of flexibility and steadfastness can lead the negotiation down a tumultuous path. So, how might you negotiate with someone that displays bullying tactics? Well, this is how to not negotiate with a bully.

Bully Personality Types

There are different types of bully personalities. The one or multiple factors a negotiator is confronted by during a negotiation can be the makeup of various factors. Thus, it behooves a negotiator to understand the mental source of motivation behind a bully’s actions. And not until you identify that source should you engage a bully.

For example, a bully may display the following demeanor due to specific characteristics he possesses when negotiating. And he may not exhibit the same attributes outside of a negotiation setting. Why is that important? Because if he displays elements of being a bully when negotiating, and not so when he isn’t, you can attempt to shape your talks as something other than a negotiation. Perception is reality. And if he doesn’t perceive himself as negotiating, he may be less dogmatic in his interactions with you. Two personality types follow.

Hardcore Bully

Negotiators define a hardcore bully as someone identified by most people who deal with him as a bully. And while most people may assign him that label, you should make your assessment to determine how he is or might engage you.

Bullies interact with people differently, depending on their perception of the difficulties to unleash their practices against individuals. By making your assessment of how the bully may address you, you can prepare your responses and tactics to thwart his efforts. Make sure you display a tough shell. You don’t have to be overbearing. But under no circumstances should you let him run you over.

Aspiring Bully

An aspiring bully is a person others see as someone who adopts bullying tactics based on his target’s perceived weakness. He can become motivated by the thought of having his persona enhanced by displaying bullying tactics against you in a negotiation (e.g., other negotiators will perceive me as a tough negotiator – one not to be messed with.) If you uncover you’re dealing with this negotiator bully type, don’t display weakness. That’ll only encourage him to become more aggressive. Instead, display fearlessness while giving him the respect that he seeks – this can be accomplished by the way and when you make concessions. Remember, this bully type is exploring his bully powers. You’ll help him find those boundaries by the actions you allow him to impose on you.


Appeasement occurs in every negotiation. You make a concession, the other negotiator makes concessions, and you both end up with an agreement that satisfies your efforts. It’s the process of how you reach that final agreement that determines if the agreeing parties will abide by their understanding or use it as the opening doorway to the next phase of the negotiation. Remember, you’re always negotiating. Thus, if you’re overly accommodating in reaching an agreement, that will serve as encouragement for the bully to continue his bullying ways. That continuance may become shown in his attempts to continuously negotiate a better deal for himself, even after you’ve agreed on the covenants to which you’ve already settled.

If you’re negotiating with a hardcore bully, make him work for what you concede. He’ll have more respect for you and become less challenging if he senses you’re not an easy mark. Plus, his ego will get a shot of endorphins when he feels he’s won something, versus his perception that you gave it up too easily.

On the other hand, if you’re negotiating with an aspiring bully, at times, you may want to become less tolerant of his demands. Remember, he probes in an attempt to find his power source. Once he uncovers that point, he’ll seek to expand on it. Thus, it would help if you kept him and his efforts under tight control. And the best way to do that is to let him have enough slack on his leash to determine what he might do with a given power, but be quick to tighten that leash if he becomes unmanageable.  

Bully Smoke and Mirrors

Anytime you negotiate against someone, and you’re unsure whether they’re a bully, ask yourself why the negotiator performs in a particular manner. Ask yourself what’s his real purpose, and have I uncovered it? Lending thought to that question is extremely important, and so is the answer.

There will be times when you’re negotiating with a perceived bully, and the only reason he’s projecting such a persona is to soften you up for the person that’ll follow him. You may not be aware that someone will take his place, but if you sense that’s what may occur, it becomes imperative that you not show weakness in any aspect of your negotiation demeanor. Remember, your current contestant is only engaging with you to point out your shortcomings that his counterpart will later exploit. Don’t be foiled by smoke and mirror tactics. While they can be deadly, their deadliness doesn’t have to become successful when perpetrated against you. Keep your head on a swivel and be alert for such tactics.   


Before negotiating with a bully, understand what’s motivating him to engage you in a particular manner. On some occasions, you’ll find yourself in a negotiation against a bully simply because he feels that’s the best way to interact with you. Thus, understand, there’s one way and a better way to engage him. I’ve spelled out the way not to negotiate with a bully in the preceding steps. Take heed of them in your negotiations. 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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