Negotiating in Life, Negotiating Tips, Business Negotiation August 10, 2011

Negotiating with difficult or irrational people

Have you ever sat across the negotiating table from someone who had a difficult personality or was plain irrational? Chances are that it made the negotiation more challenging, because not only were you navigating the deal to be struck, but were trying to manage personality.

The truth is not everyone is cut out to be a good negotiator. Well-adjusted people are more likely to assess power in negotiations more accurately and are more effective in influencing people. On the other hand, people with low self-esteem are more passive.

Keep in mind that irrationality is sometimes a ploy the other party is using to manipulate the negotiation. The idea is that being irrational will prove that you will stand by your position, no matter the price.

Although it is difficult to deal with this, Dr. Chester Karrass recommends not being intimidated by irrationality. He counsels that you should not permit the other party to invalidate or berate you, and that you should denounce irrationality.

However, sometimes it is your psychological bias that makes you think someone is acting irrationally. In the article When Irrationality Isn't the Issue from the Harvard Program on Negotiation, the author, Deepak Malthora states:

How can you negotiate with someone who seems irrational? First, by questioning whether it is reasonable for you to judge your counterparts as irrational. As it turns out, behavior that negotiators often view as evidence of irrationality may in fact indicate something entirely different. Misjudging others as irrational can lead you to make costly strategic errors.

The conclusion is this:

In negotiation, your opponent’s apparent irrationality may actually reflect a lack of information. If someone walks away from what you know is a good deal for him (or at least a better deal than his alternatives), don’t assume he’s being irrational. Instead, make sure he understands why he shouldn’t pass up the deal. He may have misunderstood or ignored crucial information. If you can help the other side become better informed, he will make better decisions and avoid seemingly irrational behavior.

How do you deal with difficult or irrational people?

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CASE MANAGER at THE JACKSON LABORATORY

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SENIOR ANALYST at BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF MICHIGAN

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PROCUREMENT at AMERICAN EXPRESS

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VICE PRESIDENT at GE

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PLANNER at HONEYWELL

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CONTRACTS MANAGER at HEWLETT-PACKARD
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