“Why Using Manipulation Right Will Make You A Better Negotiator” – Negotiation Insight

“Manipulation should be assessed by an outcome. Not on the perception of the word.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“Why Using Manipulation Right

Will Make You A Better Negotiator”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Suppose I told you that you have just been the victim of manipulation. How do you feel? Let us further suppose someone whispered those words in your ear while you were negotiating. Might you become more incensed?

Here is the point. At different times during our daily activities, we are more or less open to someone manipulating us. At first, you may find that repulsive. But in some situations, we want others to manage or enhance our emotional thought process, which stems from being manipulated. And it is during those times as a negotiator that you can use manipulation to advantage your position.

Is Manipulation Bad

I started by asking you how you felt about someone whispering in your ear to let you know that another individual was manipulating you. More than likely, you had a knee-jerk reaction that made you recall an inward experience of uncomfortableness. That feeling most likely came from a horrid memory from your past.

But initially, when thinking about the question of manipulation, did a negotiation come to mind? A negotiator can use manipulation to advantage his position in a negotiation by turning the perception of manipulation into a positive experience for his counterpart.

Turning Manipulation Into A Positive

To turn the negative perception of manipulation into positive points:

1. Seek to negotiate in your environment.

By negotiating in your environment, you will have more control of what occurs during the negotiation. And, home-court advantage is usually to the opposition’s disadvantage. Meaning, the opposing negotiator feels he is at a disadvantage because of the premise that one has an advantage when negotiating in their environment.

Here is where the mental jujitsu comes in. Use the other negotiator’s thought that he is disadvantaged and manipulate that into making him feel he is in a superior position. To do that, make generous concessions when possible. He will become more at ease, and through the law of reciprocity, he should become more open to making concessions in return.

2. Encourage the other negotiator to talk.

By encouraging the other negotiator to speak, you will gain more insight into what is essential to her per the negotiation. Plus, the more at ease you allow her to feel, the more insights she will disclose. That will enable you to gain the understanding required to address her gravest concerns and aspirations about the negotiation’s outcome. And, she will not feel like you are manipulating her. Because, in her mind, she is in control, and she is getting what she wants.

3. Do not attempt to overwhelm your counterpart with facts. That is to say, do not do it unless facts capture that negotiator.  

Citing facts during a negotiation can be tricky. Because, what one negotiator may value as factual, another may perceive as being suspect. On the other hand, if you have empirical proof about a fact and you can use it to praise or heighten the other negotiator’s perspective about themselves, use it.

In either case, if it is believable or not, it should serve to enhance your negotiation position. Just be careful of having it viewed as an attempt to influence the other person negatively. That would do more harm than good.

4. Be mindful of your emotional display.

Have you ever encountered someone that displayed too much happiness during a negotiation? Did that make you feel eerie? It was almost like they knew something that you did not know but should.

As you use the positive form of manipulation in a negotiation, consider how your emotional display impacts that perception. To have the most significant effect, balance your show of emotions between the norms the other negotiator expects. You can gather those insights by observing how she reacts when the two of you are making offers and counteroffers.    

5. Avoid negative surprises.

Some negotiators will create scenarios that become the setup for a ‘gotcha’ towards the end of a negotiation. Talking about feeling manipulated, that is manipulation in its worst form.

To avoid the perception of ‘gotchas,’ be sure the other negotiator is aware of the intent of your offers and why you accepted her counteroffers. The more you can avoid surprises that may appear harmful, the more you will prevent the appearance and perception of negative manipulation.   

6. Avoid criticism.

It can be easy to say, “that’s a bad idea.” But when you use manipulation for positive effects, you should avoid criticizing the other negotiator. It would help if you adopted a cooperation approach.

When you criticize someone, they become defensive because they feel like they are under attack. Instead of criticism, extend an unspoken bridge upon which the two of you can move towards a better negotiation outcome. And that quest is best served by avoiding criticism.

7. Do not be the superhero.

When you use manipulation right, you should not be the superhero of the negotiation. Meaning, you do not have to be the one that provides the answers to impasses or challenges in the negotiation. Let the other negotiator find and create solutions. You can nudge him in the direction that you would like to go in. But do so without him suspecting that you are leading him. The more control he believes he has, the better will be your ability to use manipulation right.  


Manipulation occurs in every negotiation. And there is a right and wrong way to use it. Negotiators will make that assessment in the talks as they determine their benefits based on the outcome. Thus, for them, manipulation can be a positive or negative occurrence.

To shape the perspective about manipulation being a benefit to the other negotiator, follow the prior mentioned insights. Adhere to them to increase your negotiation 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/blog

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