In your negotiations, have you ever faced a truly difficult negotiator—someone whose behavior seems designed to provoke, thwart, and annoy you beyond all measure? We often have strong incentives to negotiate with those we find obstinate, unpredictable, abrasive, or untrustworthy. When we avoid dealing with difficult people, we risk missing out on important opportunities. But … Read
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What is a Hard Bargainer?
A hard bargainer may resort to lying, “take it or leave it” offers, bluffs, threats, warnings, personal insults, and dirty tricks. Here’s how to negotiate with them.
The difficult tactics of a hard bargainer may knock us off balance, upset us emotionally, and often threaten our feelings of self-worth and competence. The sense that we are being mistreated often leads us to replace reasoned analysis with hotheaded reactions.
When considering how to deal with a hard bargainer, we tend to write them off as irrational and avoid difficult conversations with them. Yet few people are truly irrational. Rather, they likely have motivations that we have trouble identifying.
For example, their difficult negotiation tactics often reflect a focus on positions, not interests. To reframe, begin by treating the other side’s hard-line position as important information rather than rejecting it, writes William Ury in his book Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations (Bantam, 1993). By doing so, you can avoid an argument over positions and enlist the other party as a creative problem solver.
Encourage the other side to fully express their views and concerns with the goal of identifying the interests underlying their positions. Devote ample time to listening actively, avoiding the urge to express your own views until both you and the other party are satisfied that you understand their interests fully.
If your partner still refuses to cooperate, it’s may be time to give up and move on.
You can learn more about avoiding hardball tactics and find out how to make a deal better and faster than ever before with this free report, Getting the Deal Done, from Harvard Law School.
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