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How to… deal with an aggressive negotiator

Negotiation Tips with Mark Gordon

Whether negotiating a new salary, asking for a pay rise or trying to close out an important deal for your company, there are some key principles that you can use to guide you time and time again. 

Mark Gordon, author of ‘The Point of the Deal: how to negotiate when yes is not enough’ and Partner at Vantage Partners Negotiation Consulting shares his top strategies for getting the deal done. 

Lesson #1: Approach & Tone.

Setting out your approach:

  • Be clear on your “interests”—what you really care about, your needs, wants, concerns and fears.
  • Be creative about what “options” might meet your interests very well, instead of sticking rigidly to one outcome.
  • Consider what objective standards or “criteria of legitimacy” you can use to persuade the other side that your proposal is fair and legitimate…how can your counterpart explain to his / her boss that saying “yes” to you is fair and appropriate?

Whats the best response to an overly aggressive negotiator?

  • First, diagnose why they might be so aggressive?  Is that the way they have been taught as the best approach for effective negotiation?  Is it that they are on the defensive, and they are reacting to protect themselves because they are insecure? Are they angry, feel aggrieved, and need to vent in some way? Have you pushed their “hot buttons” in some way, and they are reacting? Is it a tactic to intimidate you?
  • If you believe that they are genuinely angry and reactive (rather than using a tactic to intimidate you), consider how to let them vent their emotions so that they can calm down and move forward. If you believe it is a tactic to intimidate you, consider how you might “negotiate about the process” to turn it into a more collaborative approach.

If your client is dragging their heels over a decision, how can you gently get to closing stage without them feeling like you’ve forced their hand?

  • Think about whether time is on your side (you have more leverage over time if they do not decide or act), or whether time is on their side (they have more leverage if there is no deal now).
  • Look for ways to change the playing field in some way so that that the “default outcome” (what happens if there is not deal) is more in your favour.

Click here for Lesson #2: BATNA: What is it and how will it help you to negotiate?


Mark Gordon is Founding Partner at Vantage Partners

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