Negotiation Tactics – The 12 Most Dangerous Ones & How To Recognize Them

Negotiation tactics are always an important part of the negotiating process. Tactics work both ways; they can be used on you and they can be used by you. But tactics don’t show themself by saying “Here look at me.”  If they would,  they would not be effective. Most used tactics are difficult to identify, very subtle, and used for multiple purposes.  Getting to recognize the most used tactics, will help you to negotiate way more efficiently!

This article gives you an overview of the top 12 most used Negotiation Tactics and how to recognize them. If you identify the tactics in an early stage of your upcoming negotiations, you are less likely to respond to them in the way the other party has been aiming for, and you, therefore, gain or retain your wanted important control in the negotiation. 

Do you want to learn how to counter these negotiation tactics effectively? Enroll in our Data-Driven Procurement Certificate Program today!

1. Drop the bomb

A suggestion that a failure to concede will lead to possible catastrophic consequences. This means using threats such as: “This may only be a small order, but failure to agree could affect all your business with the whole group”.

2. Postpone

Putting off an item or issue that you had not planned for, to another meeting or to a later stage in the negotiation, giving yourself time to work out a position on the issue. Or – even better-  as the negotiation proceeds,  issues often resolve themself and there is no need to revisit it.

3. The ‘Journalist-trick’

Ask any journalist which is the part of interviews people are likely to give them the best quote and the answer is: “After the official part, walking towards the exit door when just asked my final question”. Remember this in any negotiation: just as the pen of the suppliers is poised above the contract, you may say something like…” and that does include this and that, doesn’t it?”


Always think ahead of any negotiation of two things that are nice to haves to include in your last sentence and use them at the end of the negotiation. It has taken some time to get this far? Even better! The chances to achieve another concession are high, working on the basis that the other party will not want to waste what has been agreed. Use this carefully and it can get you just that little bit more!

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4. Bluffing

Bluffing is a good tactic to get you out of any unwanted situation in the negotiation, but it requires great skill to avoid falling over! If you are going to bluff, make sure to always be aware of what you will do if your bluff is called: have a backup plan!

5. Hanging gramophone record

Over and over again repeating the point or demand you are making will sometimes help,  because the other party gets ‘fed up’ with its constant repetition, and feels that further progress

appears unlikely until this obstacle is removed. To use this tactic, you need to be very patient &  persistent, but if you have both: try and enjoy the guaranteed results! 

6. Deadlines

Pretty helpful if you have to close many deals. Deadlines can be imposed (always the most preferable option) or agreed and can encourage parties to concentrate on creative solutions, whilst simultaneously realizing that concessions are necessary. 

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7. Pretend to be less smart than you are

This is a particularly useful tactic to ‘buy’ time to think after a complicated proposal or explanation. ‘Could you just run through that again?’ either gets you time or

discourages the other party from using such complication. Alternatively, you throw in at the last minute “we naturally assumed that your price included packaging tax ” or “We thought that you would be aware that our standard payment terms are 90 days.”

8. Silence

Silence is a great tactic to diffuse the emotion and/or people with a temper.  Generally, people are uncomfortable with silence. People feel they have to fill it, and usually what they fill it with weakens their position. Use this knowledge in your advance in negotiations:  most people can’t stand silence and are the first to fill it, very often with a concession.  Silence also allows you thinking time, enables you to gain or regain position, and puts pressure on the other party.

9. The Hypothetical Question

A technique that helps every conversation and thus negotiations: talk about ‘what if’.  It helps to test your own hypothesis, to determine how serious the other person is and this technique helps negotiations forward when there seems no more room left to move. 
“If I were to give you A how would you feel about doing B”?

By asking this question, you’re not making a step offer-wise; you’re using words to find out the level of flexibility at the other side of the table & what it might be possible to agree upon. This can be useful for checking a new idea or to help break deadlock and matters can be discussed without the fear of commitment. If used during the exploratory/testing stage it can open up useful alternatives and help shape a deal. 

10. Salami

Design your negotiation in as many small pieces (slices) as possible and try to come to an agreement piece per piece until the other party says no. This tactic often

produces concessions because the other party wishes to get away from increasingly uncomfortable situations. Tell the other party that it will not be possible to reach an

agreement until all the issues are agreed on – only then can a full and fair agreement be reached.

11. “Why?”

Don’t be afraid to challenge the other party, especially at the start of the negotiation when positions are being defined. The more details in the storyline at the other side of the table, the greater the opportunity to find something which can be exploited to your advantage. Use the “Why?” tactic not every 5 minutes; if used too often to challenge every new idea or proposal, it can cause frustration and inhibit the other party from putting forward alternatives. If you do ask “Why?” you may get some very good reasons, which are difficult to refute, so you should plan for this eventuality.

12.  All or nothing

You present the other party with just two options. One is so awful (think of an example the other party would never say ‘yes’ to) that they agree to the other option. Prepare for measures when they unexpectedly say no in advance!!

Concluding thoughts on negotiation tactics

Because all tactics mentioned above can be used in inter-relational settings between people it is essential to study the person you are going to negotiate with. As stated earlier – It is people who negotiate, not companies. Tactic 1 will work better on some people than tactic 2 . Also, the same tactics will work differently on the same person in different circumstances or at different times.

Awareness is half of the solution. The first step in successfully negotiating with a party that is using tactics is to identify the tactic and thus to be aware of what they are doing. Many of these tactics are quite obvious and can be easily recognized when they are being used against you. As said at the start of this article:  If you identify the tactic, you are less likely to respond to it in the way the other party hoped, and you, therefore, gain or retain a degree of control in the negotiation. 

Do you want to learn how to counter these negotiation tactics effectively? Enroll in our Data-Driven Procurement program today.

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