How to Identify Competitive Negotiation Tactics

Negotiation tactics can be very subtle. It can take a seasoned professional to pick up on them. Each party in a competitive negotiation uses body language, tone, appearance and even volume to persuade and influence the other party. Both sides will continue to compete until one party prevails or until both sides are satisfied and a settlement is reached. Negotiators use many tactics to influence the counter party. Being able to recognize some common devices will help you hold your own.

Look out for negative reactions. This is also know as the "wince." Acting shocked or disappointed by a proposal is meant to communicate disdain for the offer, but it may be an attempt to throw you off.

Don't underestimate the power of silence. Silence can make people feel uncomfortable. It is a tool professional negotiators use to draw out information from the other party.

Try playing "good cop/bad cop." This is a classic technique in detective shows on TV. One member of your negotiating team is obtuse and unreasonable, another is down to earth and friendly. The "bad cop" can express your side's anger and frustration by ranting and raving, allowing your "good cop" to play peacemaker, gain some points with your opponent, and possibly strike a better deal.

Beware of the "red herring." In negotiations, a red herring refers to a distraction one party might try to create over a minor point, leading the other party to lose its focus on the most important issues. The best way to handle this is to "parking lot" the issue, or suggest it be discussed at another time. This acknowledges the issue, but clears the way to discuss bigger items.

Look out for the end run. If your counter party makes an offer that's too good to be true, beware. Make sure you understand all aspects of the proposal.

Beware the "bait and switch." Negotiators may use an attractive offer to lure you in for a "real" deal that is less to your advantage.

Don't be thrown by a tantrum. This is another tool competitive negotiators use since people dislike confrontation. Recognize it for what it is, keep your cool and reiterate your last point.