March 5th, 2018

Preparing for a Negotiation with Difficult People

We all negotiate with others. Sometimes the other party can be very difficult to work with. Our best option may to avoid that negotiation and go elsewhere, but sometimes that is not an option. This article addresses this issue.

Last month I spoke to a group in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the question was brought up on how to work with really difficult people. I had spoken to the group about de-escalation, communication, conversation, listening, discussion and negotiation. I indicated that a best practice is to build a positive relationship, truly listen to the other party, be there to educate positively and then enter into a negotiation. Given the question after the presentation I offered some commentary and referred the person to some helpful information on the right side of my About page on topics such as communication, disputes, negotiations and working with difficult people. I provide some brief commentary to help her and thought you may find this useful too.

First, do your homework and know your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) before you enter into the negotiation. If the other party is being difficult and attempts to coerce you knowing your BATNA you can push back. You can indicate that the other party is indeed being obstinate in nature (call the bully for what he is) and if the other party wants to continue in this vein you can always fall back to your BATNA and walk away. This ties in well with All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We should all play fair, but not everyone learned this in kindergarten. This can have a very chilling yet very effective impact on a negotiation. This allows the parties to address the 600 pound gorilla in the room.

Secondly, don’t underestimate picking up the pieces and working to initiate a relationship and truly listening to the other side. By building a relationship even in difficult circumstances and truly listening with open ended questions it may be possible to connect with common values. This may allow you to begin listening to each other and to work on the issue.

The links provided in this article may provide you with additional ideas given your concerns. This post is very short and to the point with an emphasis on you to click on the links that may help you best.

Contact Mike Gregory to speak to your group or consult with you, and check out his website, books and helpful content on the right side of his About page. Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, MBA and a Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court, is an international speaker that helps others resolve conflict, negotiate winning solutions and inspire leaders by emphasizing collaboration. Mike services clients business to IRS, business to business and within businesses. Mike may be contacted directly at and at (651) 633-5311.

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