Tips for Negotiating with Difficult People

In today's fast-paced world, negotiation skills are essential for everyone. Whether you are trying to close a deal with a new client, mediating a conflict, or trying to convince a colleague to take on a new project, being able to negotiate effectively is critical to achieving success.

However, negotiating with difficult people can be a challenging task. These individuals may push your buttons, manipulate you, or make unreasonable demands that seem impossible to meet. But don't worry; you can learn some tips and techniques to help you navigate these difficult situations successfully. In this article, we'll explore some strategies for negotiating with difficult people and how to turn challenging situations into positive outcomes. For more tips and negotiation training get in touch with Scotwork.

Identify Difficulties

When it comes to negotiating with difficult people, it's essential to take a step back and identify the specific traits and behaviors that are making the interaction challenging. Whether it's anger and vindictiveness or emotionalism and frustration, understanding the root cause of their behavior is key to finding an effective solution. As a negotiator, it's essential to put on your psychologist hat and evaluate whether their behavior is due to personality style, culture, intimidation tactics, recent events, or something else entirely. By asking your counterpart directly or consulting with others who have dealt with them before, you can gain valuable insights and advice to help you navigate the situation successfully.


One of the most critical skills to employ when negotiating with difficult people is listening. By actively listening, you show the other person that you value their perspective and are open to finding a mutually beneficial solution.

However, it's also important to let the difficult person know that you are in control of the situation. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, it's essential to come prepared with potential solutions rather than just presenting the problem. Difficult individuals tend to respond positively to those who present themselves from a position of strength and take the initiative to find a resolution. By demonstrating that you can help yourself and have a clear plan in mind, you can earn their cooperation and make progress towards a successful negotiation.

Identify Common Ground

If you want to get the upper hand when negotiating with difficult people, one strategy you don't want to overlook is identifying common ground. Think about it: by focusing on areas where you and the other person share similar goals, values, or interests, you can lay the foundation for a more productive conversation. And even if you're butting heads on the main issue at hand, finding common ground can help you build a sense of trust and goodwill that could ultimately lead to a successful outcome. Plus, by identifying shared interests, you can turn the negotiation into a win-win situation, rather than a battle for who comes out on top. So if you want to create a more positive and productive negotiating environment, start by looking for areas of agreement and building from there.

Remain Calm

When negotiating with difficult people, it's essential to keep a cool head and stay calm. While it may be tempting to respond to their provocations or get caught up in the heat of the moment, doing so can damage your reputation as an ethical, credible, and professional individual. After all, the last thing you want is for others to view you as the "difficult" person in the negotiation. Instead, it's crucial to maintain your composure and take a measured approach to the discussion. By doing so, you can show that you're in control of the situation and that you're not easily ruffled, which can ultimately help you to gain the upper hand.

Have a Plan B

Picture this: you're in the middle of a negotiation with a particularly difficult person, and you're starting to feel like you're up against a wall. What do you do? The answer: have a Plan B.

By developing a solid backup plan, you can gain an enormous amount of leverage in the negotiation. After all, the more options you have, the less reliant you are on the other person, which means you have more power to negotiate on your own terms. So, whether you're negotiating to lease office space, buy a car, or close a business deal, it's always a good idea to have a Plan B in your back pocket. It doesn't mean you'll necessarily have to use it, but simply having the option can give you the confidence you need to stand your ground and get what you want. So don't let a difficult person hold you hostage in a negotiation. Have a Plan B, and take back your power.