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March 07, 2019

Negotiating Tip 92: Getting Them Off Track

If you are ever negotiating with someone who is boisterous and overbearing, it might be advisable to have some techniques to break their momentum and get them off their track.

The Advantages of Breaking Momentum

Fred was the virtual bull in the china shop.  Dealing with or negotiating with him was like swimming up a waterfall.  He was so intense, so focused on what he wanted, that you felt you were being steamrolled. 

So what's the best way to break his momentum and wrest some control back to your side?

Well, not every technique will work every time but having a menu of possibilities can make inroads.
 

  • Hand gestures are very effective.  Raising a hand, with your pointer finger up, clearly signals that you want them to pause.  If they stop, keep the finger up a few seconds and expand the silence.  This also can cause them to forget where they were in the conversation.  Before you bring it down, take over the conversation by introducing your next comment with something like,  "There's something you have to know..."
 
  • If you have someone with you, have him or her be the interrupter.  By reaching out to you, with a side-glance to your opponent, and adding the polite "excuse me" typically halts the conversation effectively. Have your partner remind you of something you have to do now. That will justify the interruption.  "Sorry, I just want to remind you that you're to expect a call from your _____ soon."   Make it vague but with the appearance of being very important.  Remember, you just want to break your run away opponent.
 
  • While I've never liked this technique, feigning illness or ailment accomplishes the purpose.  A more presentable method might be turning your back while grabbing a tissue or handkerchief.  Then bow your head slightly to sneeze or cough.  This not only breaks the eye contact but typically stops the conversation. Turning back around while dabbing the corner of your blinking eyes adds a final visual effect.  Be sure to pick up the conversation before they get back on track.


If you think these techniques don't work, just practice on your family.  Who hasn't had a teen go off on a one-sided energized and animated conversation? Employing any of the above techniques will meet with success in breaking their momentum and prove the worthiness of using them. Good negotiators are prepared to wrest control of the conversation, even when their opponent is over animated and dominate. 

Luckily it's rarely needed, but it's comforting to know it's there for our use as we KEEP Negotiating.

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