When you feel pinned down by an unreasonable negotiation partner, remember this about dealing with a tyrant.
You’re still in control.
What I am about to say may sound naïve. But here it is: no one can control you except you. Unless you let them control you. Which means that even if you’re dealing with a tyrant, that person only has as much power as you give them.
But what about torture?
Sometimes you could swear they are trying to torture you. Whether they are gaslighting you, or walking over you with no care for your needs, wants, or feelings, they seem out to get what they want at all costs. And it’s driving you crazy. What do you do then?
When you’re faced with someone like this, go inside. Meaning, rather than react to your difficult person, remember to stay in your own proactive center.
Draw upon your reserves. Let’s say you are in the midst of an awful situation like a divorce, and your partner wants more than their fair share. It could be the house, time with the kids, you name it. As a negotiating partner, they seem tyranical in that they are out to get what they want without treating you fairly in the negotiation.
Going inside means that rather than reacting to them, to dig deep in yourself and ask: “What do I want?”
We all want what we want.
The secret to negotitating with a tyrant is to remember that they want something, too. What is it? What does your tyrant want? If you can figure that out, chances are good that you’ll be able to speak their language. And when you speak their language, you can make progress.
What we are talking about is tactical empathy. Not sympathy, or even liking the other person; just speaking their language in a way that they know that you hear them and understand where they are coming from.
Now you can negotiate. In any negotiation, you want to get something. The trick to negotiating with a tyrant is to look to what they want, first.
Especially in difficult negotiations, employ tactical empathy. Listening for what they want will help you get what you want.
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