4 Things to Understand When Negotiating With Difficult People

Thoughtful conversation can be enlightening, and, often, people consort with others for a reason. However, there are times when people try to dominate the conversation and won’t see any other perspective. However, if people want their needs met, they must know how to compromise and negotiate, especially with difficult people. Negotiations can be made easier by first doing these four things:

1. Understand them (and show them you are)

There is little more frustrating than someone who can’t agree with anyone’s viewpoints but his own. Perhaps why some people are so difficult is because others don’t listen to them, and they feel like they aren’t being heard. Communication issues need to be settled before anyone can make negotiations.

Since difficult people spend their time trying to speak over others, the first step to negotiating is to let know they are being heard. Some people need reassured that people understand them, so people should use unbiased phrases like “for my own clarification…” to show they are interested. This could lead to additional clarification and a better chance to address their objections.

2. Understand how to speak with an open mind

Nowadays, people are overly concerned with being right. Understanding this early on could prevent a heated discussion or hurt feelings. Negotiators should use phrases like “it seems to me that…” and “this is just my opinion…” to assure their listeners that they are doing so with an open mind. Additionally, the negotiator will find that his mind becomes more open by actively using such phrases. People don’t always hear how they sound, so bringing this to the surface beforehand could help prevent misunderstandings.

3. Understand their needs

Sometimes people know exactly what they need (or want) and there is no dissuading them. However, there are many instances where people’s needs are not so obvious. Sometimes those people are looking for someone to tell them what it is. Having a clear understanding of what someone needs are before attempting a negotiation is a surefire way to offering them something they will accept.

4. Understand that they don’t want you to understand all on your own

Hearing people say that they know or understand when they don’t frustrates conversation partners more than anything else. If attempting a negotiation, people should avoid saying they understand and, instead, actively seek out additional information by using phrases like “Tell me more so I can better understand.” This attempt to understand is less offensive than claiming to understand.
People should be prepared before beginning negotiations. They should aim to understand people’s views, needs, and how to be as unbiased as possible. Above all else, people should understand that the negotiation isn’t about them: it is about the shared purpose of the negotiators.