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  • Jharna Jagtiani

Navigating Difficult Personalities: Strategies for Successful Negotiations

Learn how to handle difficult and unreasonable personalities in negotiations by staying calm, empathizing, focusing on interests, and setting boundaries.

Negotiations can become challenging when dealing with difficult or unreasonable personalities. However, skilled negotiators understand the importance of maintaining composure and finding effective strategies to handle such situations. In this article, we will explore proven techniques for managing difficult personalities in negotiations and achieving successful outcomes.

Understanding Difficult Personalities

Difficult personalities can manifest in various ways during negotiations, including aggressiveness, stubbornness, or unreasonableness. It is crucial to recognize that these behaviors often stem from underlying concerns, insecurities, or a desire to exert control. By understanding the root causes, negotiators can approach the situation with empathy and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Case Study: Dealing with an Unreasonable Vendor

Let's consider a case where a startup founder is negotiating with a vendor who consistently displays an unreasonable attitude. The vendor insists on exorbitant prices, refuses to compromise, and frequently becomes confrontational during discussions. Handling this difficult personality requires a strategic approach.

  1. Stay Calm and Maintain Composure: In the face of difficult behavior, it is essential to remain calm and composed. Emotions can escalate tensions and hinder productive communication. By staying composed, negotiators can maintain control of the situation and think clearly to find effective solutions.

  2. Active Listening and Empathy: Listening actively and demonstrating empathy towards the difficult person's concerns can help establish a bridge for communication. Show genuine interest in understanding their perspective, and acknowledge their concerns and frustrations. This approach can help defuse tension and create a more cooperative atmosphere.

  3. Focus on Interests, Not Positions: Shifting the negotiation's focus from positions to underlying interests is crucial when dealing with difficult personalities. By identifying the underlying motivations and priorities of the other party, negotiators can find common ground and explore alternative solutions that meet both parties' needs.

  4. Set Boundaries and Establish Ground Rules: Establishing clear boundaries and ground rules for the negotiation can help manage difficult behaviors. Clearly communicate expectations regarding respectful communication, mutual respect, and fair treatment. Enforcing these boundaries fosters a more constructive negotiation environment.

  5. Explore Creative Problem-Solving: In challenging negotiations, employing creative problem-solving techniques can help overcome obstacles. Brainstorming, exploring different options, and seeking innovative solutions can provide a fresh perspective and break through impasses caused by difficult personalities.

Encountering difficult personalities in negotiations is a common challenge, but it can be effectively managed with the right strategies. By staying composed, practicing active listening, focusing on interests, setting boundaries, and exploring creative problem-solving, negotiators can navigate challenging situations and reach mutually beneficial agreements.

Remember, dealing with difficult personalities requires patience, empathy, and the ability to find common ground. By mastering these skills, negotiators can turn challenging negotiations into opportunities for productive dialogue and successful outcomes.


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