Negotiating with a Bully will teach you how to skillfully deal with bullies in different forms and environments. You’ll explore the mindset of a bully and understand the motivations and behavior so that you can gain an advantage over him or her.
Negotiating with a Bully will give you the answers you need to become a more effective negotiator when you are confronted by a bully. You will learn how to quickly and easily:
- Recognize the tactics of a bully—before you yield ground in a negotiation.
- Employ an arsenal of negotiation strategies, including some you may have never considered using before.
- Plan a negotiation with a bully so that you feel prepared to tackle the situation.
- Interpret the body language of the bully—and his or her target—to better assess his or her intentions.
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About the Author
Harvey Mackay is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.
Greg Williams is a master negotiator and body language expert. The practical content in this book is driven by the author’s deep knowledge of negotiation principles. The author of Body Language Secrets to Win More Negotiations, Greg is an internationally known and sought-after consultant and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. As an author, coach, trainer, and keynote speaker, he teaches negotiation tactics and strategies that anyone can use to achieve higher outcomes in every negotiation. He lives in New Jersey.
Read an Excerpt
Bullying behavior is on the rise. It has invaded schools, homes, work settings, and politics. After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we've seen normalizing of bullying behavior, particularly directed at women and minorities. During that election the slogan "Make America Great Again" was an ambiguous message that some have interpreted as a call to return to a time when wages were higher and jobs were more secure. Others interpret the slogan as coded racial language designed to signal a rollback to a time when people of color (and women) knew their place. When Bill Clinton was campaigning for his wife in 2016, he commented about the slogan: "If you're a white Southerner, you know exactly what it means, don't you?"
Now we see the results of a message some interpret as having racial overtones. The 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, incident originated from a person identified as a white supremacist. He started a chain collision that resulted in a person being killed by a car at a protest. We have seen white police officers caught on camera saying, "We only shoot black folks. Don't worry about it. You're white. You're okay."
There is an increase in incidents of race-related bullying. Some people have been emboldened to unleash their prejudices. One of my colleagues knows a woman who is a peace center coordinator. She reports a tremendous increase in the number of requests for assistance for supporting churches, schools, individuals, or community groups because of the rise in anti-Semitism and racism.
The peace center coordinator shared a story of arranging a candlelight vigil to take place outside a senator's office. Before the event, the senator called the peace center coordinator to say he felt bullied because there would be people outside of his office. She explained that people participating in a candlelight vigil was well within their rights and that it wasn't bullying. He said, "If you don't stop this, I can shut you down." She said, "Now that is bullying. Do you understand the difference between a candlelight vigil and threatening to shut us down?" Contrast that with the white supremist candlelight vigil march that occurred the night before the horrific car incident and you get a sense of why bullying is open to interpretation.
This story highlights the need to clarify the difference between a bullying incident and a non-bullying incident. The difference between bullying and negotiation is perception — the perspective someone has about bullying. In the example of the peace center coordinator, the senator wanted to position a peaceful demonstration as bullying to intimidate the coordinator. In the case of the white supremist march on the college campus, there was a harkening back to the days when the Ku Klux Klan marched with its torches and white crosses burning. Those actions were intended to be intimidating. The same signal intent was meant to be conveyed at the Charlottesville march. The actions you perceive as bullying are open to interpretation and your perception.
A bully is "a blustering, browbeating person; especially: one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable."
A bully acts in a physically or verbally aggressive manner and can be overly aggressive by standing too close to someone; the tone of their conversation and the words they use convey their sentiments. "I will kill you" as opposed to "I'm going to kick your butt" could be one form of bullying that's displayed in the word choice. The former choice is aggressive, whereas the latter is a softer choice.
Bullies can be categorized into three distinct types based on their behavior:
The hardcore bully is someone who likely had psychological challenges as a child. This bully wants the respect and acknowledgement that he is someone to reckon with. The hardcore bully takes the attitude that "If you don't give me what I want I may beat your brains in." These are dangerous individuals who may end up in correctional facilities for assault or murder. The hardcore bully stands out because the bullying behavior is so flagrant and easily identifiable.
The middlecore bully is someone who might be a bully based on a set of circumstances. Although all bullies seek to maximize their bullying efforts based on situational opportunities, the middlecore bully is someone who has graduated from being a softcore bully and, if allowed, will seek to escalate his efforts to become a hardcore bully.
The softcore bully is a bully in training. In some cases, the person will attempt to bully others based on the environment: who is with him and what is occurring. Bullying behavior may be triggered by the dynamics of a situation in which a person who is not ordinarily a bully will take a bully position. Bullying behavior typically occurs out of feelings of help-lessness or the need for attention. When individuals are placed in a situation where they feel helpless, they may lash out at those around them in an attempt to assert some semblance of power or control. Additionally, individuals may simply want to feel or present themselves as more powerful, lofty, or deserving than others and may assert these presumed attributes by belittling those around them. Knowledge of the bully's type helps you understand how to use brain games (negotiation strategies). If you're negotiating with any one of those three types, you would use different negotiation tactics and strategies for each.
A sociopath is an individual with a diagnosable personality disorder (antisocial personality disorder) who displays antisocial behaviors and has a lack of or highly questionable moral compass. This individual is superficial and incapable of establishing meaningful relationships and connections with others, lacks empathy, displays impulsivity and unreliability, is incapable of accepting responsibility for his or her actions, and displays a complete disregard for rules. This person cares only for himor herself. Sociopaths cannot be diagnosed as such until they are at least 18 years old, but personality traits must have persisted since age 15. There are a host of reasons that an individual can become a sociopath. There are both biological (nature) and environmental (nurture) theories that can attribute to the progression of the personality disorder. Biologically, there are theories that postulate that the brains of sociopaths develop at a slower rate and that early brain damage can be a factor. Environmentally, early experiences of trauma, rejection, abuse, and extreme poverty can all be causes, as can other adverse early childhood experiences. A sociopath displays bullying behavior such as physical abuse, publicly humiliating the target, deliberately hurting others to achieve goals, and overreacting to minor offenses. If they are challenged or confronted about it, they will blame others.
The Shift of Power
Bullying takes place within the context of who is in power. For example, in the United States there are a lot of older white males in political power, but the demographics are also shifting away from the dominance of white males. There are more minorities, people from other countries, and those who have English as a second language. More women are going into higher education and coming out with advanced degrees, and more women are going into medical school and law school than men. Increasing numbers of women are running for political offices as well. This shift of power affects a negotiation and will increasingly do so as the demographics continue to erode the white male's power base from both a control perspective (that is, the bully determines when and how things are done) and a financial perspective. The awareness of the loss of power is a trigger for bullying.
Let me be clear: I am not implying that most white males are bullies. Only a few are. Of those who are, you need to know which classification you are dealing with (hardcore, middlecore, or softcore). Be mindful to not offer opportunities for a less consistent bully to escalate in behavior. When people feel threatened they will do something to protect their position no matter what their ethnicity is. Feeling threatened in a negotiation may lead to aggressive behavior.
Suppose the other negotiator has had power throughout his life to do whatever he wanted. Is that bullying if he uses the same power today that he used 20 years ago? It might be, given societal changes. In a negotiation, you should also consider how your actions in dealing with a bully today will be viewed in the future. Your actions today may brand you as tomorrow's bully. If the other negotiators feel threatened, and a lot of those in that demographic feel as though their power base or source is being threatened, they're going to respond. Powerful people:
1. Try to maintain that power.
2. Attempt to enhance it to the degree that they can.
3. Do whatever is required, including cheating and stealing, to maintain their power base.
A powerful person who does not feel threatened is likely to be a reasonable negotiator. When he does feel threatened, it behooves you to allay his fears about you and the threat you may present when you're in a negotiation. Understand his mindset: "I've always had power. I'm not going to give it up easily." (That's how revolutions come about.) This attitude may result in you having to revolt to disrupt the negotiation and take the power away from the other negotiator.
Power is the assumption of what one can do in a situation based on the degree of power that someone else allows a person to possess. Anyone, especially in a negotiation, is only as powerful as the opposing negotiator allows that person to be.
I had a situation like that once with an automobile dealer. He felt as though he could force me into agreeing to a sale. He said, "Here's the pen, sign on the dotted line. I know you don't have any questions. It is time to sign." He thought he was in a power position. Instead of signing on the dotted line, I got up and walked out. I refused to allow him to have that power over me.
Sexual predators are found in settings in which the bully has power over others: in religion, politics, prisons, the entertainment industry, news stations, health care, and so on. A sexual predator is a person seen as obtaining or trying to obtain sexual contact with another person in a metaphorically "predatory" or abusive manner. They act in a way that is analogous to how a predator hunts down its prey, so the sexual predator is thought to "hunt" for his or her sex partners.
A sexual predator may act as a bully in the pursuit of the prey. One type of sexual predator seeks women. Depending on the culture women are supposed to be more docile than their male counterparts. That culture can set the standards whereby a bully could become a sexual predator because the woman is supposed to be submissive. In some situations, the woman is expected to be subservient to the demands of the man, even if the attention is unwanted. When a woman needs what a man is offering, that's when she places herself into an even weaker position. You can keep this scenario in mind as an example when negotiating; when you think about wanting the outcome of a negotiation too much and if you desperately need what the other negotiator has you can potentially place yourself in a weakened position.
A sense of shame plays a crucial role in the way the prey will choose to act. Typically, the woman feels isolated when a man is using sexual attention or makes demands that she does not want. She feels that if she stands up against this man she stands alone, and thus she has no leverage. It's not until leverage is used in the form of multiple women coming out against the situation that we see change.
Prior to the 2016 election, the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, was caught making statements about being able to grab a woman's genitalia. Several women related incidents that confirmed his boasts. But the backlash went against those women because of the support that the candidate had. He demeaned women with statements such as, "Look at her. Do you think I would want to do something with her?"
Making such accusations about a woman's appearance demeans her further. It raises questions about her truthfulness and willingness to speak out. What could she possibly gain by making false accusations? Is she really that unattractive? How does that affect her self-esteem? In a negotiation you should be mindful of your words and the effect they may have on the negotiation.
In some cases, men who are in power have a way of getting back at the women not in power or who they abuse sexually in the form of being able to either give them promotions or have them fired.
For example, the concept of the "casting couch" in the movie industry is based on the dynamic of powerful men demanding sexual favors in exchange for acting parts for women. In 2017, the Hollywood code of silence was broken by women who came forward with their stories about studio executive Harvey Weinstein. He was accused of being a bully and sexual predator. He has been accused of groping and raping women, forcing a woman to perform oral sex, masturbating in front of a woman, asking women for massages when he was nude, for women to take a bath with him, take off their clothes for him, and more. His behavior dates back decades.
Harvey Weinstein used his power to help actresses become stars in their industry or at the very least get roles in certain movies. Those who risked saying no to his advances had to think of the repercussions on their career. Kate Beckinsale was one who said no. She "continued to turn the producer down professionally for years" and said her career was "undoubtedly harmed." Rosanna Arquette refused to give him a massage or touch his penis, telling him she would "never do that." She feels her career was damaged because of it. "He made things very difficult for me for years." Women in the entertainment industry were aware of his power but some were unprepared for what they encountered when they met with Mr. Weinstein; they thought they were there to talk about a part rather than be treated as prey. They did not have an opportunity to consider, "If I go into this environment what body language signals should I convey to show I will not submit to his demands? What should I be watching for as a signal to tell me it's time to get out? Who else should I take into the environment with me so that the man will not put himself into a position of bullying me?"
Women are sometimes blamed for whatever has happened to them. ("She was 'asking for it' before she was raped.") This accusation sends a signal to other women who might come forward that this is going to happen to them. Women must be mindful of the position they place themselves in and then keep themselves in when it comes to sexual harassment and bullying. Staying in the situation as opposed to leaving it whenever possible, and keeping quiet about what has occurred allows the sexual predator to continue.
Women who set off an alarm about the predator's actions must be willing to pay a price to do so. The price can be extremely high depending on the environment and the situation. It can be a loss of employment, respect, or reputation. It affects women in a vast variety of industries. It is not limited to show business, politics, or anywhere else. It is a difficult problem to tackle because it is pervasive and requires women to speak up to challenge the power structure of the male environment — an environment that allows and endorses this kind of behavior.
The power to confront a bully or sexual predator is also affected by race. A white female typically has more power than a woman of color accusing a white male. Therefore, in a negotiation you must be aware of the dynamics that shape the negotiation and its
Harvey Weinstein was forced out of his studio and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. When the bully loses his power, observe what the other negotiator does. In theory, the person is powerless. Does he or she turn around to seek another source of power? Anticipate what people might do if you take their power base away.
For example, a wife felt she lost power when her husband stated his intention to seek a divorce. She then claimed she needed an extravagant amount of money to maintain her style of living. In this form of negotiation, the wife was using manipulative tactics to bully her husband.
Is this unusual? Everyone engaged in a negotiation is attempting to manipulate the other negotiator. By not assigning a label of good or bad to manipulation, we acknowledge that we all do it when we're negotiating. You want something from the negotiation; that is the reason you are negotiating.
An Internet service installer I met told me that he once made a quarter of a million dollars a year in a former executive position he held. Prior to when he and his wife divorced, if she wanted $100, he would give her $1,000. She was living like a queen before he lost that position. Then she started asking for more money. If she needed $100, she would ask for $2,000 instead. When he would probe to find out what she wanted to do with the money, it turned out to be something frivolous. He said that he could tell by her body language that she was making it up on the spot.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Negotiating With a Bully"
Copyright © 2018 Greg Williams.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Recognizing Bullies,
Chapter 2: Body Language: Interpreting the Signals,
Chapter 3: Strategies: Fighting Back,
Chapter 4: Targeting the Vulnerable in the Workplace,
Chapter 5: Costs: Pinpointing the Price of Bullying,
Chapter 6: Putting It All Together,
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