Making Deals with Difficult People

If you have ever had to deal with a difficult person then you probably know how challenging it can be to come to an agreement with them.  Oftentimes these people are controlling, intimidating, confrontational, or demanding.  Although it can be frustrating and even a little unnerving at times, the right communication skills and approach can help you find a way to turn their aggression into cooperation in order to make a deal.  Here are just a few helpful tips for negotiating with difficult people.

Whenever possible, meet in private.

If it all possible, it is much better to meet with difficult people in private.  When they are confronted in front of others, they are more likely to be defensive and inflexible.  They might be so worried about proving themselves in front of others that they compete with you until they win.  When you meet in private, however, they might feel less threatened, more relaxed, and be more willing to hear what you have to say.

Meet in a neutral location.

You certainly don’t want to give these people the home court advantage. Remember, they are competitive enough already and don’t need a further sense of power.  Rather than meeting in their personal office or at their home, meet with them at a neutral location such as a coffee shop or conference room.  This will help to reduce their sense of home-court dominance.

Distance yourself emotionally. 

Before walking into a meeting with a difficult person, remind yourself that in order to reach an agreement you are going to have to distance yourself emotionally and view the situation objectively.  When confronted with difficult situations, many people are quick to strike back, give in, or just walk away and end the relationship.  However, the key to more effective communication with this type of personality is controlling your own behavior.  Keep your cool and stay focused on the end goal.

Listen to what they are saying.

Nothing is more frustrating to a difficult person than feeling like they are not being heard. If you want to reach a deal, you are going to have to start by listening.  People who are demanding and domineering need to feel like they are in control. So, when you are listening they feel like they have the upper hand.  In reality, however, you gain more leverage when you know exactly what the other party wants.  Listen between the lines to figure out what their pressure points are and use that information to your advantage.

Be assertive and professional. 

You don’t have to fight fire with fire, but you should be assertive during your conversation.  Many difficult people respect those who demonstrate strength and confidence and they are more likely to listen to them.  If they get the feeling that you can be walked all over, they will take advantage of you and the situation.