“This Is How To Spot And Stop Manipulation In Negotiations” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“If you’re not aware when manipulation occurs, it may be occurring more than you’re aware.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is How To Spot And Stop Manipulation In Negotiations”

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

Negotiators manipulate one another during negotiations. Most people don’t want others to control them through manipulation. Once manipulation is recognized, the offended party may rail against those that assail them. And yet, others will cling to those that weave manipulative tactics against them and not accept the realization that the manipulator is causing them serious harm. Where do you fall on that paradigm?

The feeling of being manipulated is dependent on the perception of each individual. That’s why some negotiators may get away with blatant manipulation, while another may pay a hefty price for his perceived transgressions. Thus, the perception of manipulation is not a ‘one size fits all.’ The following will explain how to tell when someone is manipulating you and how to stop it.  

Spotting Possible Manipulation

If you have any of the following sensations, someone may be manipulating you.

1. You question yourself about your perception of what others state as a reality.

When you’re in a negotiation and suspect that the other negotiator may intentionally mislead you to acquire gains, your mental yellow light should begin to glow. That sign is one of caution. Even if he’s not manipulating you at the moment, another scenario to consider is, might he be setting you up for a larger outcome for himself further in the negotiation. A good negotiator knows how to blend just enough realism and doubt to keep you off guard.  

2. You experience angst but don’t know why and you can’t put your finger on the source of its origin.

Anytime you have a ‘feeling’ that something’s not right, examine the emotion you’re experiencing. It’s coming from somewhere. Thus, it may stem from the way the other negotiator made his statement, that momentary glance away when he was attempting to convince you of his sincerity, or your fatigue. The point is, your senses capture information and insights your conscious mind may miss. Don’t add to a possible devastating situation by dismissing your feelings. You’re sensing something, and more than likely, that sensation is attempting to protect you. 

3. You feel rushed to deliver a decision.

During a negotiation, time is always a factor. Accordingly, a negotiator can employ it to quicken the pace of a negotiation or slow it down. Thus, if you feel rushed, it may be due to your counterpart attempting to give you less time to consider a salient point – one upon which he’d prefer you not focus. Anytime you feel rushed, control what’s occurring by becoming very deliberate about the issue you’re contemplating.

4. Too many offers are conditional.

A good negotiator may attempt to confuse you during negotiations by placing several offers on the table simultaneously. He may situate the most advantageous offer for himself strategically to make the other offers appear less appealing. You see this maneuver in a lot of negotiations. The least attractive proposition seems to be close in value to the other ones. But, the price may be significantly higher or lower, depending on those offers’ real worth.

In reality, he’s manipulating your perception of value. Some of the other offerings may have more appeal, but they’re too far above what you’re willing to extend to acquire them. So, what do you do? Depending on your perception of one option, you choose it, which is the outcome the other negotiator was attempting to achieve all along. The other negotiator just manipulated you!  

Stopping Manipulation

1. Anytime you feel pressured to move in one direction or another during a negotiation, pause.

During a negotiation, remember, you have control over the flow of the talks. If you don’t like what’s occurring, call a time out. Leave the discussion while silently signaling your dissatisfaction. For example, if you sense pressure due to feeling manipulated, you might slowly stand and say, I’m not fond of how this negotiation is going. It doesn’t feel right to me. I need to clear my head. Then, note what the other negotiator does in response to your statement. Dismiss his words – they can be deceiving. Remember, he’s manipulating you. Instead, focus on his actions. His actions will be the barometer that signals his real intent moving forward.

2. State your awareness.

Even if suspect the other negotiator is unintentionally maneuvering you, put him on notice. Tell him how you perceive his actions. In so doing, you’ll alter the talks’ course.

3. This next technique is one I love because you can exaggerate it – it’s breathing.

If you feel manipulated, physically begin breathing in and out in an exasperated manner. Your effort is to send a visual signal that the other negotiator is wearing on your patience with his manipulative tactics. If he doesn’t ask, what’s wrong, more than likely, he’s aware of what he’s doing. And that would be your signal to become more forceful about the next course of action to take.  

4. You can attempt to use reasoning.

You can reason with some negotiators when you feel manipulated. Ask him what mood he’d be in if you were using the tactics he’s employing. From there, state your case per your perception of what he’s doing. And ask him to stop. Your intonation will carry weight when you make that request. So manage it, to allow it to assist in the outcome you seek to achieve.


In your interactions with other people, be it in a negotiation or not, people will attempt to manipulate you. You’ll determine their degree of success. And you’ll do that based on how you comport yourself, how long you allow manipulation to occur, and what you do to confront that person. Thus, if you become hypersensitive to others’ actions when they’re trying to manipulate you, you can be ready to refute them. Their efforts will become futile. 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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