Bullies on the playground—you thought that you had left them behind in grade school along with bloody noses, homework, and the mean school principal. Yet, the same bully behavior can appear when you are confronted with an aggressive negotiator.
A bully is someone who is mean and attacks other people with words or actions. They use teasing, threats, or strength to scare or hurt someone. They often just take what they want. Bullying is a form of aggressive and harassing behavior. This antisocial behavior occurs across all geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic segments of society. And kids who are bullies grow up to be adult bullies.
Aggressive negotiators get what they want because other people give in to their scare tactics. While some people are bullies by accident or they are not self-aware, the majority of aggressive negotiators just turn off their social controls to get what they want. They are self-centered and they have intense needs for attention; often they are aggressive because of intense feelings of inferiority or deprivation. They “get off” on the power of dominating someone else. It is fun to them.
The bully negotiator uses aggressive tactics such as emotion and anger; they overwhelm the other party with pressure and push the other party to give in to their demands. Often they will negotiate a deal and then balk at the last minute requesting a final concession; they rely upon the meekness of the other party. Bully negotiators threaten to take the business elsewhere or lie about competitive bids. In all cases, the bully does not value the relationship with you. They are will willingly forgo the chance to do business with you again so that they can get what they want now.
Surprisingly, aggressive negotiators are easily handled. In most cases, all you have to do is catch them at their game and point it out to them. This means that you need to be aware of and watching for their tactics; seldom is the bully subtle, so this is usually not a problem.
The harder part is stepping up and confronting the behavior. Most often it is as simple as saying something like, “Give me a break. You don’t expect me to fall for that do you?” Or, you can be more subtle and say, “Excuse me, can you repeat that? I must have not heard you correctly.”
The typical reaction when the bully is caught is to back off. Just pointing out the behavior is enough to stop the aggressive negotiator in his or her tracks. Don’t tolerate this behavior—no more bullies on the playground.
John Bradley Jackson
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