We are all familiar with bullies. We were probably harassed by a bully at least once during our school years. Some kids grow out of bullying when they leave school. Others go on to be adult bullies. In fact, many people deal with bullies at work. So much so there is even a group called the Workplace Bullying Institute.
Webster’s defines bullying simply: to treat abusively. Bullies use abuse to intimidate others and to try to get their way. According to the article “Dealing with Difficult People: The Workplace Bully” by Susan David, in the workplace, bullies engage in tactics such as falsely accusing others of errors, being intimidating, and being harshly and unfairly critical.
Some negotiators who are bullies feel that abusing their opposition will make them prevail in the negotiation. In negotiations, bullies are dismissive, they criticize constantly and they may engage in non-verbal intimidation like staring down. Bullies try to create unpleasant conditions in order to lower the opposition’s resistance.
But here’s the thing: no one likes to be abused. And it’s a universal business truth that people like to do business with people they like. Being likeable is a huge factor in getting ahead in any aspect of life. Logically, the obverse is also true. Being unlikable will set you back and no one is more unlikable than a bully.
In the end, a bully will not get his or her way in a negotiation because the opposing party will not want to continue talking. A bully can never be a good negotiator because a successful negotiation usually results in a Both-Win situation for all involved. A bully is always looking out for his or her own success, often at the expense of others.