Photo: Lisamarie Babik via Flickr
Recently a “nice” client came to us with a common dilemma for many nice people:”Almost everything in my life is a negotiation, from work to my wife to my parents to my kids.
The problem is that I am minced meat with pushy and manipulate individuals. How do I keep from being run over by these people?”
The reason you’re minced meat is that such people infuriate you. Once you spend energy keeping a lid on your anger, they have divided you (in your mind) and then they conquer you.
But that’s another column. You’d like to know how to get better rather than why you’re so easily manipulated.
Essentially, the less prepared you are to walk away, the more easily you can be manipulated. The best way to be prepared is to know the absolute bottom line of what you’re willing to settle for and beyond which you will walk away. Don’t do this on the fly, because any compromise you make during a negotiation will cause you to leave feeling unhappy. What you truly need should not be negotiable, everything else, including what you want, is. If you are dealing with a manipulative, pushy person, here are steps to keep from being pushed around.
1. Ask the other person, “What do you want and need from this meeting to be satisfied?”
2. Repeat exactly what they said without any modification or change in inflection saying, “This is too important to get started without having heard exactly what you said. And what I heard was” (repeat what they said) and follow with, “Is that correct?” Wait for a confirmatory, “Yes”
3. Next, ask “Why is it so important to get what you’re asking for and why is it so important to do that now?” If they ask: “Why?” reply calmly, “We may not each be able to get all of what we want, but hopefully there will be a way for each of us to get what we need.”
4. Repeat what they say to you, following up with, “Is that right?” Wait for a confirmatory “Yes.”
5. Do your best to not say what you want or need. If they don’t ask, that’s a red flag; if they do ask, respond with minimal answers.
6. Wait for five seconds (count in your head), then say, “H-m-m-m.” Then pause for another five seconds and say in a definitive, non-negotiable voice, “This is too important to give you an answer now, I’m going to take a day to think about it and then let’s plan to meet or speak tomorrow.”
7. The more anxious or tense they become or pressure you towards a “Take it or leave it” challenge, the more likely they are hiding something and nervous about not being found out and not being able to manipulate you.
8. If they persist with a “Take it or leave it stance,” leave it, even if it means going to court. Manipulative people are anxious about going to court because they fear that their manipulation will be discovered by a judge or jury.
9. When you speak or meet the next day ask them, “What further thoughts have you had since our meeting yesterday? Any more thoughts on what you want and what you need?”
10. Repeat what they say and again get a confirmatory “Yes” that you heard them correctly. If they become impatient, tell them, “I don’t mean to irritate you; I just know how important it is to hear and understand what the other person is saying.”
11. Pause and then say in a measured voice, “I have given this a great deal of thought and it’s clear how this is a good deal for you, tell me how this is a good deal for me.” The less able they are to articulate this, the more they will do anything to win at any cost. If they do that, tell them that you’re going to decline and be prepared to walk away.
12. If they start to pressure you, pause again and say, “Well let me take another day and think about what I bottom-line need from this exchange and I’d like you to do the same about why I should agree to go forward and let’s talk again tomorrow.”
13. Talk to them the next day and ask them what they came up with. Before you talk any further, ask yourself, “Is this giving me at least what I need?”
14. Recall what your bottom line need is and tell them. Then be quiet.
15. Be ready to walk if you don’t hear what you need to in order to move forward
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