Negotiating with a bully, or anyone that acts in an obstinate manner can be a difficult proposition. Such encounters can leave you haggard, bewildered, and in a sense of bedazzlement. Stated simply, it can leave you emotionally drained. But, if you know how to negotiate with a bully, you don’t have to risk jeopardizing your sanity or peaceful state of mind.
When you find yourself negotiating with a bully, consider employing the following strategies to lessen his impact.
- First, identify why the bully feels he can bully you. There’s something that he’s perceived about your demeanor that marks you as a target. Once you discover that, you can alter your demeanor to appear more formidable. Just an FYI, you should alter his perspective of you prior to entering into the negotiation.
- Understand his source of power. A bully’s mindset is one of picking on people that he perceives to be weaker than himself. His perception stems from his support system (i.e. those that back him), along with his perspective of what he’s achieved versus what he perceives you to possess (e.g. he has friends in higher places, more money, greater status, etc.) To combat his perception, create the persona of someone that’s also connected. You can do this by emulating the bully’s support system.
- Appear fearless when such is required. A bully will ‘push your buttons’ to discover ways to manipulate you. Everyone is familiar with the schoolyard bully. He picks on the kids that won’t stand up to him. When they do, he usually moves to a target that is less challenging. When dealing with a bully in a negotiation, you have to be defiant when defiance is called for. Remember, the bully will only push you to the point that you allow him and, he’ll continue to push as long as you allow him. Unfortunately, history has taught us this lesson time and time again when dealing with tyrants; tyrants are nothing more than bullies with a bigger platform.
- Observe body language – In particular, look for nonverbal signs of submission and those that are out of sync with his verbiage (e.g. bully leaning away from you when making a demand – potential sign of him retreating and testing your resolve, softening his demeanor when he senses that you’re displaying backbone, making request with ending statement sounding like a question). Such observations will give you greater insight into what his next action(s) might be and his psyche.
- Consider how you can have embedded commands in your offers, suggestion, and/or concessions. As an example, observe the statement in bold in the first paragraph of this article. It states, ‘you know how to negotiate with a bully’. Such subliminal messaging may not be observed by the conscious mind, but they will be perceived at a subconscious level. Therein is where it can have an influence on the other negotiator. To combine the effects, lace several subliminal messages together. Use them as needed and apply them judiciously.
While negotiating with a bully can be trying, if you employ some of the suggestions mentioned above, you can decrease the bully’s effectiveness. In so doing you’ll make yourself less desirable from being targeted for bullying by the bully… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating.