Negotiation Examples: Diffusing Intimidating Tactics


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Negotiation Tactics Versus Gamesmanship

Negotiation tactics are techniques or actions intended to influence a negotiation. However negotiation gamesmanship consists of techniques or actions, unrelated to the merits of the transaction, used to gain an advantage in a negotiation. Thus, gamesmanship is a subset of tactics. For example, yelling, screaming, intimidation or walking out are types of gamesmanship tactics.

Why Understand Negotiation Games?

Gamesmanship is not for everyone, but all negotiators should recognize and understand these tactics. Gamesmanship as a tactic is used to cause confusion, intimidate, accelerate or improved leverage or momentum. Thus it’s a key skill to recognize gamesmanship tactics when they occur so that the skilled negotiator can deal with them.

Some negotiators develop reputations for frequently employing gamesmanship. For instance, some negotiators are well-known for employing various types of intimidation tactics to gain concessions. The professional negotiator will recognize such tactics and refuse to take the bait, avoiding unnecessary concessions.

K&R Negotiations has extensive experience in business negotiations. Here’s an example of intimidation tactics from our collection of negotiation examples.

A Business Negotiation Example – Recognizing and Diffusing Intimidation

K&R Negotiations co-founder, Harvey, was representing a client in a negotiation. The lead negotiator on the other side had been rude, nasty, and downright obnoxious during the process. Things were unpleasant, but Harvey ignored the behavior and refused to let it get a rise out of him. He stayed focused on the merits of the transaction.

Late during a session, the lead negotiator started to make a point, but then said, "I’d explain this to you in more detail, but it’s so complex so it will just go right over your head, Harvey."

At this point, Harvey had several options: He could have replied with equal rudeness. He could have stormed out of the room. He could have done nothing. Instead, he stood up and said, "Feel free to offer your explanation. Now that I’m standing, perhaps it won’t go over my head".

Everyone in the room laughed, except the lead negotiator. She got red with embarrassment.

In the above scenario from our collection of negotiation examples, the lead negotiator and other members of the other side’s team believed in negotiating through intimidation and arrogance. They used negotiation tactics to intimidate Harvey into a concession. However they misjudged him: Harvey recognized their approach and used humor to diffuse the tactic.

Mladen Kresic
Mladen Kresic is President of K&R Negotiations, a team of professional negotiators who improve profitability by providing the negotiation training and tools necessary to Win Wisely™ at the sales negotiation table. He has served as lead negotiator for numerous acquisition and divestitures, strategic alliances, licensing and strategic sales deals. Mladen has negotiated, consulted and delivered programs on six continents and in over 40 countries around the world.


  1. Great article Mladen. The definition of negotiation tactics vs. gamesmanship is excellent. Also, the example of where Harvey used humor to diffuse a tense negotiation situation is very instructive – certainly a better way to achieve a good result than answering rudeness with more rudeness.


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