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Beating Bully Negotiators

Don't get bullied at the negotiating table. Here are four tips for staying in control when facing overbearing opponents.
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If you react to intimidation by counterattacking, walking away or caving, there's a better way: Stand your ground, and negotiate.

  • Stay cool. Above all, relax. Ignore the theatrics. If your opponent keeps interrupting, politely ask him or her to stop. Create a tactful timeout, such as another appointment. Not reacting may take supreme self-control, but your maturity will pay off. Also, don't allow experts, celebrities or business leaders to psych you out.
  • Refocus on the issues. Intimidation is not the issue. Your deal is. No matter how long it takes, keep bringing the discussion back to the real concerns: price, services, time periods and so on.
  • Slow it down. Reset the pace. Pause before you answer. Go over things one more time. Start taking notes. Say you'll think about it and get back to them. Intimidators would prefer to hustle you into agreement. Don't let them.
  • Ask questions. Favor open-ended ones, the kind that can't be answered by a simple yes or no. Once your opponent starts explaining and discussing, it's no longer intimidation--it's negotiation.

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

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