Using Anger as a Negotiating Tactic

Anger can help in negotiation, but be sure to use it wisely.
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This story appears in the September 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In business, anger is better viewed as a tactic rather than an emotion. Like any other weapon in the deal-maker's arsenal, it can be used and abused.

Anger often feels great. It is powerful. It is energizing. It strengthens our resolve and adds fire to our arguments. It can even grant us moral high ground when it comes in the form of righteous indignation.

The realist finds even more practical uses for anger. Why waste time talking? Just bark at your opponent. Two out of three will back down. Feeling mischievous? Rattle the other side. The first one to scream loses. In fact, some deal-makers build a whole career around being mad, with everyone tiptoeing on eggshells around them.

On the other hand, anger often backfires. You just never know how the other side will react. An enraged opponent is difficult for everyone. Anger may drive a passive-aggressive opponent underground to sabotage you later. And if your opponent carries a grudge, pray you never need anything from him again.

To use anger in negotiation well is an art. My advice: Occasionally, it's OK to dish it out, but only after you think about it, not before. Don't use anger often or you will dilute it. Finally, don't fight anger with anger--you are asking to go into a tailspin. Your opponent may not know any better, but you should.

A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is author of Deal Power.

Edition: July 2017

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