Manipulation in business negotiations – explain in detail

The rules of manipulation in negotiations and how to resist them

For example, during a negotiation it sounds like “If you are a serious company and want to cooperate with us for a long time, then of course you will give us a discount”. The manipulator’s goal is to get concessions. The addressee is shown another goal: “Prove that your company is serious! You can only do that by giving us the discount you’re asking for.”

Does the manipulator have other ways to get a concession? Yes, but then it would sound like, “Let’s talk about possible concessions on your part,” “We think you can give us a discount because 1), 2), 3).” This is no longer manipulation, but a dialogue based on reasoning.

Why would an opponent choose manipulation? Probably:

  • He likes the game itself.
  • The manipulator does not know enough about other ways to achieve his goals (e.g., argumentation).
  • He believes that he has a better chance of getting what he wants when he manipulates the interlocutor. Often there is a great deal of truth in this belief – when the “victim” is unprotected.

1. Only emotionally “knocked out” people succumb to manipulation

An emotionally balanced person makes or changes his earlier decisions under the persuasion of his opponent. This is exactly what the manipulator does not need. Therefore, his first task is to knock the future victim of manipulation out of emotional equilibrium. He praises, he praises a lot, he scolds, he scolds a lot – and the addressee starts to get nervous, not understanding if he is good or bad. Emotions prevail over logic, and the person is ready for the next step of the manipulator. Now he may be asked to do something to justify himself in the eyes of the manipulator. As a result, the “guilty” person begins to do things that he or she really doesn’t need to do at all.

It is only possible to knock out someone who has been hit exactly on his “weak spot.”

  1. Don’t rush to show emotion if someone is actively trying to provoke it.
  2. Ask yourself the question, “Why am I being praised so actively and so much?” or “Why am I suddenly being scolded for no reason?”
  3. Don’t rush to do something quickly under the influence of emotion. They are bad counselors.
  4. It’s as dangerous to justify someone’s praise as it is to justify yourself in response to reproach. It is no better to “fight back” on the fly in response to a blow. Often it is for the sake of this reaction and the manipulator makes a move. He can easily say, “That’s it! You’re also rude to me. I told you that you can not be entrusted with responsible work. You are emotionally unstable. Then it’s too late to tell the manipulator that he provoked the emotional outburst. There are people who spend half their lives living up to someone else’s expectations and are wonderful, downright professional “victims.”
  5. Ask yourself the question, “Why would I do what the manipulator wants me to do?” or “If I were making the decision myself (no manipulator at all), would I make that decision?”
  6. Don’t do what the manipulator “demands” if you don’t really need it.

2. Strikes at weaknesses

Ambition, professionalism, guilt, conscience, and pity are all weaknesses. An experienced manipulator quickly calculates which ones the “victim” has.

The negotiator at length lists his merits and regalia, his business partners – his shoulders turned, his voice ringing, his eyes full of pride in himself, the best. Most likely, ambition and professionalism are the points on which his opponent can strike if he wants to.

The punch could be: “What a pleasure it is to do business with a professional like you! You are a man experienced, knowledgeable, etc., and of course you understand that the best option would be. ” The recipient’s emotion is positive. Next, an option is tucked in that is advantageous to the manipulator. “The victim” is difficult to contradict. First, it is bad to disagree with someone who appreciates you so highly – you can immediately see that this person is intelligent and pleasant in every way. Secondly, if you don’t agree, you don’t seem to be as smart as you’ve just been talked about. It’s hard to deprive yourself of pleasant emotional stroking.

The second version of the strokes: “Well, what kind of professional are you if you offer such unrealistic prices. “The addressee’s emotion is negative. You want to get rid of it as soon as possible – the easiest way is to agree with your opponent.

Where do adult and intelligent people get their weaknesses – these “buttons”, by pressing which you can cause a particular emotion, “force” to act in one way or another? We all come from childhood, and “buttons” – from the same place. Blame it on parents, caregivers and teachers.

If you every time you get “hit” with responsibility and you do what the manipulator expects of you (which you do not want yourself) – this is not a character trait, but a real weak spot.

  1. Everyone has weaknesses: some have more, some have less. You have to try not to show them in business. The client, the negotiating partner, the manager should see a professional – flexible, thoughtful, steady – and not a person who reacts to some words in a certain way. In the movie “Back to the Future,” the main character, getting into different versions of his past and future, in response to the phrase, “You’re a coward!” – always got into a fight. No other provocation worked on him. One weakness spoiled him badly, especially as others around him knew about it.
  2. It was good to know your weaknesses. Knowing yourself in general is useful. It enables us to anticipate dangerous situations and not to react quickly. It is our emotions, not our reason, that provide the quick answer; they are not always the best counselor. If a person believes that all people should be responsible, the phrase, “You promised me!” – can make him justify his own attitude. Even if he promised ten years ago, in a different situation, and not at all what the manipulator is talking about. Of course, accountability is important. But we can evaluate ourselves, and we can respond to the evaluation of others: significant to us people or not. “I, of course, promised. But there is a limit to everything,” said King Dadon of “The Tale of the Golden Rooster” by Pushkin.
  3. Gradually reduce the number of weaknesses. This is where a good job of self-improvement is needed. As a means of “first aid,” suits the self-humiliation of the type “I only do what I think is necessary,” “I have no need to justify someone else’s expectations, except for my own,” etc. 3.

Manipulative trap “Corridor”.

The manipulator does not “shoot” at random. He sets “manipulative traps” that are quickly slammed shut when inattentive recipients of influence fall into them.

At one end of the “corridor” is a button, at the other end is the action that the manipulator proposes to take. “After all, you want your company to see a dramatic increase in sales, don’t you? If that is what you really want, the only way to achieve it is to sign a contract with us. And we’ll provide you with the necessary influx of customers.”

If the “victim” joins the game, the manipulator has succeeded. The “victim” enters the game when he or she “understands” that there is no other way to get what he or she wants except by agreeing to the option offered by the manipulator.

Or the earlier example: “If you are a serious company and want to work with us, of course you will make concessions to us.”

The trap is called a “corridor” because, having fallen into it, the “victim” sees what the manipulator shows: the seriousness of the company cannot be proven without making a concession. There is no other way out (choice). By starting to make concessions, by proving the company’s seriousness, the addressee is already in a “corridor”, out of which it is almost impossible.

  1. Make the manipulator understand that in your opinion, the seriousness of the company is not determined by concessions, but by the quality of the goods, by the solid clients and partners, by the reliability of cooperation, etc. You need to state your assessment of the situation by saying: “Yes, we are a serious company. And that means 1), 2), 3). At the same time you can’t say a word about discounts at this stage!
  2. Next you need to break the “corridor”: “We can certainly talk about concessions, if you double the volume of purchases,” or: “Yes, it’s important for us to increase sales. And we see several ways to achieve this result. Cooperation with your company is one of them. What exactly can you do for us?” About the seriousness of the company separately, about the money separately!
  3. Then you can agree to the manipulator’s offer. It is important that this is done consciously, “because it benefits me,” and not “because I had no choice.

4. Manipulative Trap “Abstractions.”

The manipulator uses abstract concepts. The more interpretations one can have of what he says, the easier it is to slam the trap. For example: “And your competitors have better products and lower prices.” “Better” and “lower” have no facts. Taking this information at face value, the addressee at best begins to justify and explain. At worst, he makes discounts so that people will buy it, even though “competitors are cheaper. That is, the decision is made on the basis of unspecific assumptions. In doing so, the manipulator probably just made it up as “better.”

Clarify every unspecific word and work only with facts. “Which of our competitors are you talking about now? What product are you referring to? What supply volumes were you talking about with our competitor?” If specific information comes through, the dialogue will be constructive. For example, knowing that competitor A put a price of O for product X, you can compare supply volumes, manufacturers, etc., and make a two-way argument.

If there are no facts, it is manipulation, and its initiator will try to avoid further discussion of the issue. Which is what was required to prove.

5. The “No Choice” Manipulative Trap.

The manipulator uses alternative questions: “What is better for you – to get more at a lower price or less but more expensive?”, “Are you satisfied with this today or that tomorrow?”, “So do you order four or five?”

The implication is that you have already agreed on everything else, there is only one last small choice to make. It is difficult for a person who is not sure of himself or his position not to give in to the “either/or”. “No choice” is a kind of “corridor,” only the manipulator offers two ways out, and both are in his favor.

Manipulation in business negotiations – explain in detail

Negotiation is a type of joint activity between two or more people to discuss and find a solution to a problem relevant to them.

In order that the solution suited both parties, and at the same time was optimally effective, negotiators use different types of psychological influence on the interlocutor.

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Emotional repression

This type of manipulation aims at suppressing the emotional state of the opponent through evoking emotions such as insecurity, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, and confusion. When the other party uses “Emotional Suppression” you feel pressure from the opponent, there is a feeling that you are not in control of the situation, that you personally, your product, your company are nothing and are not of interest to the opponent.

Tough negotiators can start negotiations with icy silence or, on the contrary, with an emotional outburst to probe your opponent. If you can’t resist his pressure and tricks at the beginning of negotiations, no one will negotiate with you, they will just dictate terms to you.

The basic techniques of “Emotional Repression” are presented in the article here.

Among the types of psychological influence are

  • Persuasion. The impact on the mind of another person with the help of rational argumentation, aimed at shaping or changing his opinion, a decision on the issue of interest.
  • Persuasion. Influencing the state or attitude of the interlocutor to the problem with the help of non-rational means – influence on the emotions, moral principles of the interlocutor.
  • Infection. Transmitting one’s own condition or attitude to another person by forming the same emotions that somehow (so far unexplained) he or she picks up and begins to feel. Contagion works especially well in a group of people when emotions begin to circulate, intensifying in the process.

Another type of psychological influence is manipulation. We will focus on this method of influencing the interlocutor in more detail.

  • Coercion. Obtaining desired behavior from the object through the use of threats to its security, financial position, status in society. At the same time, the person using threats must have the ability in the eyes of the object of coercion to deprive it of these or other benefits, to limit opportunities or resources.

Manipulation or manipulation (from Latin manipulus – handful) in Ancient Hellas was a demonstration of tricks based mainly on sleight of hand and ability to divert spectators’ attention from what was really happening. The art of tricks, which originated more than 5,000 years ago, in modern society has been deformed into a set of psychological techniques for “controlling” another person, without assuming that the object understands the true goals of the manipulator.

By manipulation we will understand the impact on the behavior, state, thinking of the interlocutor by various means, characterized by the presence of two goals: explicit – declared to the interlocutor, and hidden – giving the manipulator a one-sided advantage or benefit. At the same time, the latent goal does not necessarily bring harm or damage to the object of influence. Manipulation in which the covert goal brings positive change or has a favorable effect on the object of manipulation is also called “hidden influence.

There are many manipulation techniques, whatever their purpose. They are also called subterfuge.

Manipulation techniques or subterfuge are manipulative techniques designed to gain an advantage in specific circumstances or techniques that force another party to make concessions by creating certain situations or deceptions. As a rule, subterfuge forces a partner to make decisions that are disadvantageous to him or her, or makes it difficult for him or her to defend his or her position with proper persistence.

In general, any manipulation technique involves acting according to one scheme:

1) First, information about the addressee of influence is collected, his needs, desires and interests (desire for success, fear of failure, need for money, self-esteem, etc.) are identified,

2) based on the collected information, the targets of influence are identified – the characteristics of the interlocutor, the needs, satisfaction of which is most important for him/her at the moment,

3) then the bait is demonstrated – the opportunity to meet the needs as quickly and easily as possible,

4) the object of influence is induced to make a decision as quickly as possible, and the time for reflection is maximally reduced, so that mistrust does not have time to block the joy of the “perfect solution” found,

5) after the decision is made, it suddenly turns out that everything is not so simple and the proposal is not at all advantageous, but “things done cannot be undone,” and the object of manipulation blames the bad circumstances, and the manipulator gets his winnings.

  • Gathering information about the target of influence.
  • Identifying targets for influence.
  • Demonstration of the bait.
  • Inducing (coercing) the target to act.
  • Winning the initiator of the influence.

Despite the fact that all manipulation techniques are based on this scheme, it is not necessary to learn as much information about each individual as possible in order to use them. Most people are easily manipulated using a standard set of baits promising quick and effortless satisfaction of their needs. The manipulator offers what many people want to have: money, security, beautiful women, admiration, fame. And most importantly, all of this can be obtained not as a result of hard work, but immediately, “here and now.

Based on a person’s desire to get everything at once, as well as on a number of principles of the human psyche that we discussed in detail in previous articles, manipulative influence techniques allow the manipulator to achieve maximum results in business negotiations and at the same time maintain good relations with the interlocutor. This is why manipulation in business negotiations is currently one of the most popular and sought-after topics in business training.

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2. Manipulation of trust

The use of “Manipulation of trust” in negotiations generates strong emotions such as kindness, decency, honesty, fairness, generosity, humanity, as well as feelings of pity, guilt and shame (you are fine, and we are not, how are you not ashamed). And it is these emotions that make you commit the action in which the other party is interested.

In simple negotiations, “Manipulation of Trust” is often based on the “Mutual Exchange” rule. The other party may use small gifts or compliments to make you feel obligated. In business negotiations, the opponent tries to appear as open as possible, talking about long-term cooperation. Likewise, the other party may not voice the terms of the proposal directly, but as if to imply them. For example, you may be told that if the deal is concluded, you will receive a very good commission. The sense of trust engendered by the manipulation may prevent you from specifying the size of the commission. You expect a good commission of 50%, and your opponent is going to offer you 5%, but this will be revealed after the agreement is made.

The basic techniques of “Manipulation of Trust” are presented in an article here.


By using this tactic, the manipulator invades the decision-making process of the opposing party. Individual techniques:

  • Invade personal space.
  • Arrange a provocation while opponents are thinking.
  • Talking about things the opposing side is sure the other side won’t understand.
  • Move negotiations to small, uncomfortable rooms.

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3. manipulation of circumstances

This type of manipulation is based on using circumstances that weaken your position or that you cannot verify. For example you may be told that your decision-making time is extremely limited and you need to make your decision now. Or that competitors have already offered better terms, and you are only listened to because they expect even better terms. Or that the condition which puts forward your opponent is principal for the other party, if you do not accept this condition, negotiations are over.

The basic techniques of “Manipulation of Circumstances” are presented in an article here.


When you name your price, the manipulator flinches, so obviously that everyone notices. He looks at you in disbelief, remains silent and waits for another offer.

This tactic works because it makes you feel uncomfortable, to think that social norms have been violated, the opposite party has been insulted. Many people are taken aback by this explicit expression of emotion, so they find themselves knocked out of their saddle and expressing a willingness to bargain.

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4. Manipulative presentation of information

This category includes manipulations based on the presentation of distorted, unstructured or excessive information. For example, the opponent can throw numbers at you, refer to documents that you were not informed about in advance, convert rubles into interest and back, count the payment not for the entire period of the contract, but for the day of use, or force you to discuss only topics that are convenient for him.

The basic tricks of the “Manipulative Information Presentation” are presented in the article here.

What if.

If you don’t talk about something directly, you can leave a lot of room for probing or backtracking. This cautious manner helps to find out the true motives of the opposing side and to find weaknesses.

Manipulators also use this tactic to stoke the flames of their opponents’ imagination and generate greed. These are the starter words with which it usually begins:

  • What if.
  • How about…
  • Let’s try…
  • Suppose…
  • Imagine that…

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Defenses against manipulation

Knowing the basic types and understanding how manipulation manifests itself in negotiations, you can not only identify it, but also apply techniques to protect yourself from manipulation. Here is a universal model of behavior to counteract manipulation in negotiation:

  • Be mentally prepared for manipulation by your opponent
  • Remain calm and take your time
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Keep bringing the discussion back to the negotiation plan

You can also counteract most manipulation by showing your opponent that the manipulation did not go unnoticed and you identified it. Let’s call this the “all secrets come out” technique. For example, your opponent makes an unrealistic demand, or turns on an emotional outburst, in response to your proposal. Remain calm and tell him that his opponent’s actions look like manipulation, which is aimed at delaying or disrupting the negotiations (he makes a knowingly unrealistic proposal, which you will not be able to accept or overreacts emotionally to force you to respond emotionally). Then let him know that you don’t understand why he is doing this, and suggest that we return to a constructive discussion.

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Negotiation Atmosphere, Business Negotiations, Manipulation in Negotiations, Negotiation Process, Negotiations, Negotiator’s Dictionary, Emotions in Negotiations

Food Control.

Food affects our decisions in incredible ways. When we are hungry, we can make completely different decisions than when we are full. Manipulators know this and try to seize power over food.

They invite you to specific places, order certain foods and drinks. All this is to weaken your mind, to reduce your ability to make good decisions. Before they get what they want, they offer food and try to placate you. In the end, they get what they want.

It is advisable to come to such meetings fed, so as not to depend on food.

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The old-fashioned bluff was created for negotiation. Its essence is to tell your opponent something that will impress him, but will not be quite true (or even an outright lie).

Manipulator must have acting skills, to act confidently and decisively. The easiest bluff is to say, “I have a better offer, so I’m not sure that I will agree to yours” or “I have an appointment with another client tonight, after which I will decide whose offer to choose.

This simple trick really works, because we don’t know the truth: maybe a competitor will really make a better offer?

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Manipulator sets a deadline for you and forces you to make a quick decision. Ask directly why there is such a hurry, and if even something confuses you, refuse to cooperate with such a person.

The deadline plays on greed, on emotional tension. At the same time, it may be implied, rather than set directly: the manipulator will hint subtly at the deadline and rush you in every possible way.

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“Big shot.”

This trick works if you don’t know the manipulator. He can say anything he wants about himself, exalt himself to the heavens and make up any stories. Even in the information world, sometimes it’s hard to figure out if it’s true or not.

The tactic can be unraveled by carefully observing your opponent: any doubts about the authenticity of behavior can and should be seen as manipulation.

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Changing standards

The tactic is to find out what standards guide people’s decision-making. What are the criteria? What are the ideals? This is step one: find the standard.

Step two: change the standard. The manipulator begins to speak your language and use your values to negotiate, sometimes even claiming to share them. He intends to get close and act as a friend. For example, a real estate salesman will ask you to describe the perfect house and then try to sell something that no one has bought in a long time, using your words and phrases.

Be critical and don’t fall for the tricks of manipulators. We wish you good luck!

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