3 Effective Ways to Negotiate with Difficult People

The possibility that you will encounter a difficult individual with whom you will have to negotiate is inevitable. Negative people abound, and even ordinarily positive people can become difficult under some circumstances. When you’re negotiating with a difficult person, these three strategies can help you get to a point of agreement more easily.

1 – Step Back To Re-Assess the Situation
Individuals that come to a negotiation with a difficult attitude may do so for a number of reasons. They may feel at a disadvantage from the very beginning, and therefore get into a defensive mental posture. They may not want to negotiate at all, which causes them to be uncooperative in its progress. Their negativity may be a tactic of delay or undercutting the ability to come to an agreement as a demonstration of their own power. When you come to such an impasse, stepping back from the situation to get a better understanding of the problem can often be the best way to find a solution. Even a short break will give you time to think about the problem from a different aspect.

2 – Find Points of Agreement
A good negotiator will not be discouraged by signs of a difficult reception on the other end of the interaction. Instead, an expert negotiator will find points of agreement between the two sides that will encourage the other party to accept, so that they can move from this point into more substantial aspects of the discussion. This strategy can be helpful in moving the other party to a more positive frame of mind and conversation. The negotiator can then build on mutual agreements, gradually closing in on more contentious issues.

3 – Offer Choices To Get To Yes
When a negotiating opponent has dug in his or her heels against a resolution, it can be a sensitive matter getting them to back down from their position to find a path to agreement. If you have a superior position to the person, the temptation to “pull rank” and imply negative consequences unless they agree can be strong. However, this can sometimes cause people to stubbornly resist any coercion. The better strategy is to devise a number of options that provide a sense of choice for the individual. People are much more likely to come to an agreement if they feel they have made a contribution to the outcome.

A positive approach is always better than one that causes the individual to reject the agreement to save face. It’s always better to offer face-saving options rather than resort to power tactics to force an agreement, a tactic that can backfire. If you approach the negotiation with an upbeat attitude, you will be better able to get to a positive outcome, regardless of the negative behavior of the other person.

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