In a good negotiation, both sides try in earnest to compromise and both sides gain something in doing so. Thus, both sides effectively win. However, manipulative negotiators seek only to satisfy their own needs by manipulating the other person(s).
A manipulative negotiator may be a pushy salesperson, a boss, a co-worker, a family member, a significant other, or a self-centred friend. In some cases, such as small children, the manipulative behaviour is unintentional. However, in most cases it is intentional.
In order to fight against manipulative behaviour, you must first be able to recognise when it is happening. This is harder than it may see on the surface because some manipulative negotiators are so good at what they do, you may not even realise they are doing it. To help you learn to recognise this type of behaviour and to help you in knowing how to fight it, four examples are given below.
Patronising and/or Verbally Abusive
Your significant other may use patronising, sarcastic, or even down right abusive language to belittle you. You may recognise this language as abusive but you may not realise they are using it to try to control you. Your husband may say something like, "You aren't going to be stupid enough to go out with your idiot friends again to that crazy place, are you?" They may be pretending to protect you but in reality they just don't want you to go out because they don't want to have to watch the kids without your help. You can fight back first by realising what their real motive is and then by calling their bluff. You might ask, "What is the real reason you don't want me to go out." You could also be more direct and say, "I am going to go out because I deserve a night out with my friends. Are you going to be able to handle the kids on your own or do I need to hire a babysitter?"
Trying To Bulldoze Right Over You
This is where someone tries to talk louder than you and keep talking so fast you can't get a word in edgewise. In other words, they try to dominate you without even listening to what you have to say. A parent may do this to try to get you to date someone they want to fix you up with even though you know they aren't right for you. When this happens, one of the best ways to fight back is to just take their arm gently and say something like, "Look, I understand how strongly you feel about this but I do not appreciate that you are not allowing me to express how I feel. Please allow me to talk for 3 minutes without interruption...."
The Guilt Trip
We've probably all experienced this one many times over to varying degrees by different people. Someone wants something from you because they're in some kind of predicament and they make it sound like something bad is going to happen if you don't help them. They infer that you would then be to blame if you don't help them. A co-worker may ask you to finish up his or her work, cover for them, so they can get home to help their kid do their homework because they're falling behind. Your boss may ask you stay late to do his work because he says his wife is going to be really upset if he's late to dinner again. Your brother may ask you to let the caustic comments from his wife slide so he doesn't get into trouble. In all of these cases, and in similar cases, you can fight this by first deciding how you really feel about the situation and realise that you should NOT feel guilty if you don't want to help or simply can't help for whatever reason. Then it comes down to whether or not you want to help the person out of the kindness of your heart, not out of guilt. Perhaps you want to help the co-worker help her son. Perhaps you do not want to do the boss' work because you have a kid of your own to get home to. In this case, tell him that you understand his problem but you simply have to get home to your child. If your sister-in-law's comments are too harsh, maybe you feel like you need to stand up to her. If this is the case, you may want to tell your brother in a diplomatic way that his wife is treating you badly and you would appreciate his support in talking with her about it. Let him know that if you have to say something to her in a diplomatic way, you will not feel guilty about doing so.
Forcing You To Choose Between Two Options
Another trick that manipulative negotiators use is to try to force you to choose between two alternatives as if they were the only choices, when in fact, there are other choices available. Usually, they offer the option they want you to choose and another ridiculous option to try to force you to choose the one they want you to choose. The way you fight this manipulative tactic is to simply point out that you know there are other choices, including the one you are going to choose and why. You can be sweet and smile while you explain this but be firm in not allowing yourself to be manipulated.
If you are having trouble figuring out how to deal with a particular manipulative negotiator, you may want to consult negotiation experts for specific strategies on how to fight back.