Negotiation: Tactics, Tricks and Threats



Most successful negotiators recognize that the way people involved in negotiations behave does not always reflect their true feelings or intentions. We are going to look at negotiating tactics that may be used by you or on you. Whether or not you choose to use these tactics, it is vital to understand:

  • Tactics work
  • They can be being used on you and can be used by you
  • Once they are recognized as tactics, their effects are reduced, or eliminated

You may feel that there is no need, in your particular case, to negotiate or resort to tactics. In negotiation, this is a matter of personal choice.

In general, tactics are used to gain a short-term advantage during the negotiation and are designed to lower your expectations of reaching a successful conclusion.

There are many tactics available to negotiators. Here are a couple you may recognize:


This can begin before you even get together, or start your negotiations with the other party. Let us take a sales example:

You telephone for the appointment and the other side says, aggressively …

“Don’t bother coming if you are going to tell me about price increases. You’ll be wasting your time and I will be forced to speak to your competitors”

When you do arrive, you are kept waiting in reception for half an hour, without being told why. As you walk through the door into the other person’s office, they indicate for you to sit down, but they don’t look up. Instead, they sit leafing through your competitor’s brochure, in silence, ignoring your efforts to make conversation.

You are given an uncomfortable low chair to sit in that happens to be directly in line with the sun shining into the office. At this stage, how confident do you feel….?

The Monkey on the Back

Some negotiators have the irritating habit of handing their problems to you so that they become your problems. This is the “monkey on their back” that they want you to carry around for them.

A classic example is the person who says, “I have only got $10,000 in my budget” 

This is often used tactically to force a price reduction. Here is what you can do.

When one side says “I have only $10,000 in budget” look concerned and say something like:

“That is a problem. As you are no doubt aware, the cost of our systems can be anything up to $20,000 and I really want to help you choose the best system that meets your needs. Does that mean that if one of our systems has everything you are looking for, but costs $20,000, you would rather I didn’t show it to you?”

The “monkey” has been returned and they have to make a choice. If the objection is genuine and the budget figure is correct, you must try to look for an alternative that meets your needs as well as theirs.

If they genuinely can only spend $10,000, that is not a tactic but the truth. In dealing with tactics, the first decision you must make is whether it is a tactic or a genuine situation? If it is genuine, you have a problem to solve, rather than a tactic to overcome.

The Use of Higher Authority

This can be a most effective way to reduce pressure in the negotiation. Introducing an unseen third party can also be effective in bringing the negotiation to a close.

“I need to have this agreed by my Board of Directors.”  

 “If they agree to the terms we have discussed, do we have a deal?”

However, be careful to use this tactic sparingly so that the other side does not begin to feel you have no decision making authority yourself…

One way of countering this is to say, before the bargaining begins: “If this proposal meets your needs, is there any reason you would not give me your decision today?”

If the other side still wishes to resort to higher authority, appeal to their ego by saying: “Of course, they will go along with your recommendations, won’t they? Will you be recommending this proposal?”

There are  many others like: “Nibbling” “Good Guy, Bad Guy” “The Use of Silence” “The Vice” “The Power of Legitimacy” and “The Low Key Approach” You will find them all in one of my most recent eBooks …


“How to Negotiate from Open to Close” and if you would like a complimentary copy, please email me –


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