Negotiating Through Strength – While not Displaying Anger

Can’t we all just get along? Sometimes not … When you negotiate, how do you deal with someone that’s angry or bitter? Better yet, how do people negotiate with you when you’re angry?

When you negotiate, how strong are you? To be more exact, how strong is the image you project, your position, and the proposition that you make? Your positioning and image play a great role in the overall outcome of the negotiation.

When you negotiate, do you ‘look’ the part you’re portraying? Do you cast the appearance of a successful individual, if that’s the role you’re portraying?

My motto is, ‘You’re always negotiating”. From the moment you enter into a conversation with someone that you may be bartering with in the future, you’re negotiating.

To the degree you speak a certain way, display certain mannerisms, or use body language to convey an unspoken thought, you can move the other person in one direction or the other.

You must be aware of the background, perceptions, and attitude of the person you’re negotiating with. If you raise your voice past what is considered to be normal in some environments, you’re not perceived as being upset or angry; while in other environments you may be considered rude, obtrusive, or downright unmanageable. That’s why it’s so important to understand the makeup, the characteristics, and value system of the other person.

If you understand the mental makeup of the other person, and have a real appreciation for the desires they seek, you can create a chasm of emotions and still be within the boundaries of someone that’s considered to be negotiating from strength, not anger.

What should you do if someone becomes rude or angry with you when negotiating? First, determine if it’s a tactic. If you conclude they are truly upset about the direction in which the negotiation is headed, call a time out and try to understand why the other person feels the way they do. If they are using anger as a tactic and they try to raise the stakes and you don’t wish to appear to be weak, push back. Sometimes you have to raise the stakes in order to get the other person to ante up.

You can be stern and fair without being abusive; the perception is in the delivery. I recall a time when I was on a flight and requested an additional meal (I’m 6′ 2″, 220 lbs. and I have a healthy appetite). The flight attendant bent over, smiled, leaned close to my ear, and said, no. After that she stood upright, turned and walked away. I thought to myself, wow, my request was just denied, but I feel good. In essence, always be aware of the style and manner in which you deliver your words. You can deliver the same words in a fiery tone, or one that is conveyed via a consolatory manner and the message will be perceived differently.

There will be times when people will portray a sense of anger, as perceived by the person they’re negotiating with, when what the other person is really projecting is a sense of strength. How can you determine if someone is expressing themselves through genuine anger versus strength? First consider …

  1. Looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective. Do they have a reason to be upset (unemotionally, put yourself in their place)?
  2. Assess from your perspective, what is the source of their anger?
  3. Assess your reasoning as to the legitimacy of the other person being angry.
  4. Determine what you can do to alter their angered state of mind?
  5. Let them know you perceive them as being upset (watch the words you use at this point. A word such as ‘upset’ may sound less volatile than ‘angry’ to the other person.)
  6. Offer a solution, couched in ‘if’ we can do ‘x’, would that alleviate the situation (You don’t want to give away anything needless, without knowing you’ll get a return, something of value, on your offer. Thus, the reason you use ‘if’.)

By following the steps above, you can reposition the mental mindset of the other person. If done correctly, at that point, you will gain a position of strength in the negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.

The negotiation lessons are …

  • Always be mindful of the other person’s state of mind when negotiating. By being alert to their state of mind, you’ll gain insight into what paths to travel towards the successful outcome you seek.
  • If you’re positive someone is using anger as a tactic during a negotiation, let them know you’re aware of what they’re doing. Suggest in a mild manner that both of you negotiate more sincerely.
  • If the person you’re negotiating with is just too hot headed to peruse the negotiation, call a time out or recess until they cool down. If at all possible, never negotiate with someone when they’re in an angry state of mind.

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