The most common negotiation tricks…
…and how to render them harmless.

This list – which has been developed in our training sessions from participants’ experiences – is intended to help expose tricks and to counter them effectively and objectively. The recommendations have been developed at several Coverdale negotiation training sessions and are intended to encourage you to find a suitable and helpful response to the situation at hand. You cannot use these tricks yourself if you want to negotiate constructively, which is highly recommended.

Using tricks (general)

to address; to make it clear that one has recognized “it”; to thematize
unfavorable framework

(draught, bad air, smoking, looking against the sun, etc.)
address; take initiative (turn off), (smoking) breaks; change of venue for negotiations

Seating arrangement

Partners of a party are confronted with each other, cannot communicate with each other
“We’d like to see our records together.” “We’d like to talk in between.”

Keep waiting

and remember: “Will it take even longer? Then in the meantime.
telephone”; suddenly let the appointment go by

Manipulating the negotiation date in your own favour

Time pressure, as well prepared and moment to interrupt, postpone; clarify desired timeframe in advance; install buffer; alternative offers to appointment; possible team change

Time delay

agree on clear objectives; tight negotiation management; timetable; set intermediate steps; flashbacks
External disturbances

Switch off disturbances beforehand; hint for effects of even a small bubble “Maybe we should take (several) small pauses?

Unclear powers

Clarify powers of attorney in advance: “I am authorised to conclude contracts, does this also apply to you?”; find the right contact person

Reschedule items on the agenda

Delete item “Miscellaneous” from the agenda; under “Miscellaneous”, add “This is such an important item that I want to be well prepared for it.”

Changing the order of items on the agenda

visualize the agenda and times; the arrangement before the negotiation is valid, unless everyone agrees with the change because it makes sense

Permanent leaving from meetings

Minimize disturbances in advance: written messages, redirecting telephone; “Can we find a solution that we can work together effectively here? “Can we make this decision without you?”

“Challenge Cup Behavior.”

Diving before work and responsibility
strong moderator involves all; boss decision; things decisions/responsibilities

“Yes, but…”

“Does that mean no?” “What are you trying to say?” “Did I understand you correctly that…?”

Hear heartfelt

“I’d like to finish this sentence.” “I’m not (yet) finished with my explanations”; agree on rules; use moderator; visualize

Make the other side insecure by frequently asking questions

“Do I express myself unclearly?” “I would like to finish my remarks and ask you to note your question. Perhaps many questions will be clarified during my further remarks.” Record and visualize intermediate results


“I take your silence as consent and ask that this be recorded in the Minutes.” “What do you say
to that?” “What’s your opinion?” “How should I interpret your silence?”

Non-verbal signals that reveal disinterest:

“How shall I interpret your silence?” “Your pencil irritates me.”

Read newspaper, …

“I’m afraid you can’t contribute anything to this point if you read the paper.” Change the agenda so that non-participants can get out.

Distribution of roles in argumentation e.g. good guy /bad guy

and name: “This is the best representation of good guy / bad guy I’ve seen so far. Since it only takes us time, I suggest we end it.” Columns of the front; use positive contact person.

Intimidate, threaten

ignore them; address the relationship level: “I feel threatened!” “Is that a threat?” Show serenity: “I’m not afraid of anyone except the Last Judgement”; clearly visualize goals / interests
“I’m sure you’ve made a bad start again.”

BAMBUS technology; humorous reply; unexpected reaction show: “Do you want to postpone the negotiation?
Provocation / Insult

Address, ignore the relationship level
establish general evaluation principles, general disqualification

ignore: “Is it in our interest to talk about the brain of … now?” “Now can we go back to our old ways?
“What do you mean by “turn to factual arguments”?
Negotiation is alibi exercise

Decision already made
“I can’t get rid of the suspicion that the decision has already been made.” “What choice do we have?” “What’s the situation and what role do I play?”
to flatten the other one, to stir up the past.

“I’d like to look to the future now, because we can both positively influence that.” “Let us leave what has happened, it can no longer be changed.”
endless lamentation, long monologues, declarations of principle

Restriction on speaking time; “Could you repeat that, please? That was so many points, I couldn’t keep them all.” “Should I perhaps visualize the most important points?” “What does that mean in concrete terms for the negotiation?”; giving feedback, reflecting understanding.
make excessive demands

what’s doable? “Only if you give me some air to live can we cooperate in the long run.” Name your own BAZVÜ.

Exploit vulnerabilities

to recognize and prepare solutions in preparation for negotiations; to make strengths aware and to oppose them; BAMBUS technology

Riding on weaknesses / mistakes until you are mellow

“Is that an important point for you?” “I’ve taken that point – can we move on with this now?”

Work with untruths, rumors, false “facts”, “selected” statistics

“Can you give me a little more information on that? I’m hearing this for the first time.” “Can we make this the basis of our decision?” To prove the opposite with source; to request source; to pause / interruption (to get information); to put aside as unimportant: “What value do we attach to this information?

Make claims that have not been proven

“Where can you read that?”
Hold back info and “conjure out of the hat”.

postpone, request time for processing; “Why are they only appearing now?”; make surprise attacks ineffective, overhear arguments visualize, repeat, clearly emphasize
“Secondary war sites.”

Summary / flashback; deliberate misinterpretation of results, e.g. summary: “Do I understand you correctly that you…”; take your own standpoint and seek consensus; be penetrating, visualize results


prepare clear and unambiguous wording; take prepared (legally reviewed) contracts with you;
otherwise have it legally checked, record promises; set deadlines; secure: “How can I rely on it?” “I have heard in other negotiations that promises have not been kept. Do you mind if we put this in writing?”

Additional demands

We had found a package solution that can no longer be valid due to this additional demand. I’m afraid we have to start this negotiation all over again”; seek the conclusion of the negotiation; clarify powers beforehand

Breach commitments

Have protocol with results, responsibilities and times signed on both sides; determine contractual penalty