How to recognize manipulations and quickly neutralize them

    Somehow it happens that negotiation issues are of great interest to the habrapublic. Our most busy posts related to negotiations in one way or another:

    Not so long ago, talking with the director of a large IT company, we just discussed this topic. And he suggested that the IT industry is the industry where people communicate with each other most of all. Despite the seemingly large amount of time that we spend alone with a computer, we also spend a lot of time in communication: with teammates, colleagues from other cities and countries, customers, etc. Chatting in one day with guys from Novosibirsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Santa Clara, Shanghai and Bangalore is in the order of things. And in writing, and verbally, and at meetings and in chats - as you want. Continuous negotiations. This probably explains so many advantages in the posts on this topic.

    Today we decided to continue this topic and publish a chapter from Dmitry Kotkin’s new book, The Negotiating Book of Quick Recipes.

    How to recognize manipulations and quickly neutralize them

    Negotiations are often compared with a military battle, and their participants with military leaders whose victory largely depends on
    how skillfully they use the means at their disposal. The military arsenal can be very wide, and, in addition to obvious means of attack and defense, various tricks and tricks are also in use.

    Often, a negotiating battle looks like an exchange of sweet pleasantries, a friendly conversation or a completely business-like constructive dialogue, but the form hides an insidious strategy aimed at weakening the enemy.

    One type of covert attack is manipulation. Manipulation acts by creating a skillful illusion for the opponent,
    directing the interlocutor to the new manipulator with a new informational and emotional space.

    But first, what do we mean by manipulation?

    Manipulation is a hidden effect on stereotypes of human behavior in order to obtain the desired behavior from him, and decision-making in this case is based primarily on emotions and is not calculated from the point of view of logic. This is an action that a person might not have performed if he had more time to think!

    Manipulation is not always bad. A bedtime story for a child is also a manipulation; almost any kind of training is based on manipulating the student’s consciousness.

    Each of us has some knowledge of what will happen in communication with another person after some of our signals (words and gestures, emotions and shades of voice). Subconsciously, we are waiting for the responses we need, we assume them. We all manipulate each other. Each day, each of us performs hundreds and thousands of manipulations.

    And then manipulation acts as an adaptive way of interpersonal communication, a way that selects the most effective communication strategies that allow you to tune in to an interlocutor or group, taking into account their age, cultural, and behavioral characteristics.

    Manipulation becomes a forbidden weapon when they act on a value system, a person’s self-identification system. Each of us has at least once been involved in a manipulation such as “if you are a real man, wife, caring leader, etc., then you must ... buy a wife a car, cook soup, increase salary”. And it’s hard for a person to make a negative decision, because there is a fear that they will be perceived differently from how he identifies himself, how he wants to be perceived ...

    Usually, when they talk about manipulations, they recall the classic magic triangle of relations (it is also sometimes called a triangle power) - Karpman’s triangle: “Aggressor - Victim - Savior”.

    The manipulator, provoking you, plays one of these magic roles, clearly “pulling” the necessary emotion from you:
    - Either you agree to reduce the price by 20%, or we will “go” to the competitors (the opponent plays the role of “Aggressor”, trying to
    cause a feeling of fear).

    By the way, in order to distinguish a threat from a warning, it is important to remember that a warning contains a decision that a person is going to make, factors that will affect this decision, events that will happen after this decision in his life.

    The threat is more emotional and unspecific, you are only hinted at possible losses in the future, if you do not agree with your opponent, and your fear will complete the details yourself.

    During the crisis, the indignant director of the grocery store sharply declares to his supplier:
    - Well, shame on you! What kind of receivables can we talk about when I have nothing to pay my employees with, and they all have small children, and many women also raise them alone! For debt come next month.

    A sentimental story, the manipulative tone of which gives a large number of details that have nothing to do with the subject of negotiations. The store director chose the role of “Victim” for himself, trying to make the supplier forget about his debts for a while, creating a feeling of guilt in front of virtual young children.
    - Let us now lower the price of your services so that we can consider you as a long-term partner, show that you are also interested in this.

    Here, the manipulator simultaneously acts as the “Rescuer”, hinting at the easy receipt of orders in the future, and in the role of the “aggressor”, showing its willingness to change its positive idea of ​​the opponent if he does not make a discount.

    The Rescue Strategy is often used in tenders. A classic example: a large construction company announces a tender for the purchase of fittings, the result of the tender should be an order for several hundred million rubles. Suppliers are drawn into the race for the "golden calf", in the end, the tender "wins" the plant, which offers its products almost at cost, but hoping to make a profit on the back.

    An agreement is signed, which states that the conditions of each monthly supply will be specified in a separate application. The first shipment takes place, the plant waits for the second, waits until it receives a message from the customer that there will be no further purchases, since “the purchased fittings, according to the results of the verification, do not meet the requirements of the customer”. The customer’s benefit is obvious - in a relatively honest way, a lot of money was saved on the first purchase.

    It is worth noting that to think through and implement effective manipulation, the author has to use remarkable ingenuity. The creation and use of manipulative scenarios in negotiations can sometimes be real creativity. And the author is both a playwright, and a director, and, most often, the lead actor in them.

    To understand how this works, let's look at a few real-life scenes using manipulative scenarios:

    Scene One. Negotiations are ongoing on the price between the manufacturer and the purchasing manager of the retail chain.

    Purchasing Manager (as if sharing "secret" information):
    - We are launching ten new stores in the near future, and also plan to open retail outlets in each district center of the region by the end of the year. It is clear that with this sales volume we now need the maximum discount from you and 2% of the marketing fund for the promotion of goods. We voiced such conditions for all suppliers. But since we have long-standing and good relations
    with you , we decided to speak with you first.

    - I am very glad that you are planning a significant expansion of the network in the future. But for this quarter, if I understand you correctly, the volumes of purchases remain the same ?.

    Purchaser (with a chagrin look):
    - Yes, but new conditions on prices and marketing should be signed now. I’ll tell you a secret, some of your competitors have already confirmed their readiness.

    This is a classic trick of the buyer, acting on the supplier with a carrot and a stick at the same time. The right position here is to maintain good, “trusting” relations with the purchaser, while objectively assessing the situation on the basis of facts, and not giving too much importance to hints of compliant competitors.

    Scene two. The IT company is meeting with the participation of customer representatives. Victor, head of the design department (reporting on progress):
    - Dear partners, at the moment the preparatory phase is fully completed, testing is ongoing; we are meeting deadlines and will be able to launch the application by November 1st. ”

    Kirill, deputy head of the design department:
    - Victor, I would like to clarify important information for colleagues on the timing. Today, programmers reported that one of the modules had malfunctions. It is likely that debugging will require additional time, and may delay the launch date by one week.

    Customer representatives are looking hard at each other. The director frowns.

    Head of the design department (forced to explain):
    - Thank you, Cyril. Colleagues, I planned to inform you about this issue a bit later.

    It would seem that the young deputy chief really wanted to convey to the client the most accurate information on the dates. But, when analyzing the situation, it turned out that in this way he “framed” his leader in the eyes of the management and the Customer.

    How to recognize when your opponent is sincere, and when he is trying to manipulate you?

    Please note that in all the cases considered, the manipulator creates its reality in the negotiation space. He hides his true goals (in our examples - to push, substitute) under the demonstration to be useful to another. Take a closer look, what tools does he use?

    First of all, it is:
    • Destructive behavior (ignoring, interrupting, "turning on a fool", being late, etc.).
    • Emotional attacks (behavior that knocks down an opponent and makes you feel insecure).
    • Data manipulation.

    What counter errors does an unprepared negotiator make when caught on a hook?

    • Reacts emotionally: pays excessive attention to the tone in which the opponent communicates, tries to restore justice and sort out relations with him.
    • Allows the manipulator to lead him away from the topic of negotiations: loses purpose; allows the opponent to discuss issues that are outside his interests.
    • He calls on the manipulator to behave humanly and stick to the agreements.

    What the manipulator will certainly answer with stormy bewilderment, and will continue to bend its line, simultaneously dubbing you a capricious interlocutor or expressing resentment at your "strange" claims.

    Scene Three. Company A delivers the 1C-Accounting program. Company B, a large distributor of food products, has decided to announce a tender for the supply of software.

    A representative of company A was invited to the office of company B to conduct a fact-finding presentation there and answer questions.

    At the preparation stage, a list of meeting participants was stipulated, including the Director General, who makes the final decision when choosing a service provider. The meeting is scheduled for 15:00.

    At 15:10, everyone is in the room except the CEO. The remaining participants in the meeting are asked to start the presentation, citing a lack of time. General, in their words, will come later.

    20 minutes later, on the 10th slide of the presentation, the Director General enters the room. After the greeting, the representative of company A suggests introducing the director to the course of things, briefly introducing the missing part of the presentation. He refuses and insists that the speaker continue from the place where he stopped.

    ... Five minutes later, exchanging a few phrases with the director, the Chief Accountant gets up and leaves, the second most important person at the meeting. The third employee is talking aloud on the phone, the two remaining look out the window and whisper. The director opens the laptop and begins to study something in it with concentration ...

    What are we dealing with: bad education, an epidemic of disrespect, poor organization, or is there a manipulative scenario with hidden goals in front of us?

    To understand this, as well as learn to behave correctly in such situations, you need to remember the following basic rules:

    1. Fix in advance the meeting agenda and the list of issues that will be discussed.
    At the preparation stage, it is necessary to agree with the other party
    • meeting time (both start and duration);
    • a list of participants from both sides (indicating the posts);
    • list and order of issues discussed;
    • negotiation goals.

    Having a clear agenda for the meeting, you will always have the opportunity to return the conversation to a constructive course in the event that the opponent begins to deviate from the topic or “get off the coast”.

    2. Use open-ended questions.
    The manipulator in his speech often uses the definitions of “bad”, “expensive”, “slow”, while avoiding clarifying what exactly is being said. Without indicating what was the point of the report: in comparison with what, with respect to what criteria, etc. Open questions (that is, those questions that cannot be answered simply with “yes” or “no”, where you need to give a detailed answer) will force him to give a definite answer and return the dialogue in a constructive direction.

    Open-ended questions begin with the words “what is connected”, “how much”, “how”, “how do you evaluate” and so on.

    3. Do not make excuses.
    Manipulators often create situations in which the other side is forced to defend themselves, their business or their company. Remember how often it happened that we were led to such tricks and rushed with ardor to prove our innocence!

    As a result of the implementation of such a scenario, on the one hand, the impression is that we really have something to blush for, and on the other, the manipulator achieves its main goal - it seizes the initiative during the negotiations and takes them away from our advantage in our own direction.

    4 Feel free to stop negotiations if you do not like how they go.
    You are an equal participant in the process, you have every right to offer to pause at any time in order to more carefully assess the situation. If the other side starts to rush you - you are in a manipulative reality.

    5. Stay human.
    Try to counter manipulation with the mind, not with force. Do not be indignant at the actions of the manipulator, in the end, his behavior is just a way to get benefits. Let your partner exit the situation with honor. If during the dialogue it becomes clear to him that the tricks do not affect you, then he himself will switch to the win-win negotiation strategy - when both parties win. You form a new agreement with your partner and, starting from it, continue a constructive dialogue.

    It is worth noting that in some cases, in particular when discussing prices or debts, manipulative scenarios are applied regularly.

    When negotiating a price, this is a kind of ritual. First, a professional buyer comes, uses different pressure tools, can manipulate different numbers to lower prices. A competent seller takes this calmly, understanding the client’s desire to receive the most favorable conditions. Further, the sales manager politely and calmly begins to ask open questions, learning from the partner his actual needs. Then, using comparison and other arguments, he substantiates the attractiveness of his proposal to the client and the adequacy of the price.

    The second common case is debt collection. Here, the debtors (consciously or not) use the “victim” and “soulless stalker” approaches as a manipulative scenario.

    The task of the negotiator is to return the opponent to reality. Without reproaches and notations, to build a conversation with him as an adult, a person responsible for their actions. It is important not to put pressure on the debtor, but to offer him real options for
    debt recovery . The conversation will turn into a productive channel. This will help you get the money, and the debtor to maintain dignity.

    6. There are no hopeless situations; always look for solutions.
    It happens that negotiations seem to be at an impasse. This can be both a consequence of insufficient professionalism, and a well-thought-out tactical device, where the manipulator creates and directs us into its “reality tunnel”.

    Scene Four. Buyer:
    “I need the best price, and you have high prices.” Either give me a discount, or I'm leaving. I already have more interesting suggestions.

    “We cannot lower the price.”

    “Then all the best.”

    In order to discern such a manipulation and get out of the impasse, it must be borne in mind that:

    a) Refusal in business negotiations is often inconclusive. Today, saying no can tomorrow turn into yes. Often, negotiations that have reached an impasse and interrupted for some time later resume. And conditions that seemed to have no alternatives are being revised.

    b) Perhaps the ultimate position is not a reflection of company policy, but a particular behavior of a particular person. There are frequent cases when taking negotiations to a higher level or just meeting with another manager allows you to continue the dialogue and opens up opportunities for further work.

    c) If you want to get the maximum, know how to take risks.To risk is to take an action, as a result of which you can both get what you wanted and worsen your position, both outcomes are possible. Risks can be minimized, but a complete rejection of them is a guaranteed loss.

    7. Use proven universal tricks.
    What does universal reception mean? If you feel that you are being manipulated, just remember one of these tricks and apply it in response to this manipulation. On the machine, without hesitation.

    a) The most universal trick is "Leaving the line of attack."
    To manipulate the enemy did not reach the goal - the easiest way to get out of contact with him for some time. In order to gain time and calmly repulse the provocation, someone drops a pen under the table and looks for it there for a long time, leaving the manipulator in a misunderstanding of the response. Someone recalls that he urgently needs a glass of water - take a pill, and for some time the conversation revolves around this topic, someone asks for a moment's pause to make an urgent call. When an empty chair is in front of the opponent, there is nothing to manipulate.

    b) "Demonstration of the opposite behavior."
    The opposite of what? What is expected of you! If you understand that they are trying to intimidate you - demonstrate courage. If you are provoked to aggression - demonstrate surprise. If you try to make impatience manifest, you turn into a very slow, brooding boa.

    Negotiation workshop. The test of the first atomic bomb by the Americans in Alamogordo took place the day before the opening of the Potsdam Conference, at which Churchill, Stalin and Truman were to discuss the post-war world structure.

    “The bomb, which seemed like just a possible weapon, seemed like a weak reed that you could lean on,” admitted Henry Stimson (US Secretary of Defense), “but the bomb, which has become a colossal reality, is something else.”

    Truman and Churchill for several days chose the moment to suddenly inform Stalin of the news and intimidate him with the existence of a formidable weapon, in no way wanting to devote the Russian Generalissimo to any details. “Peacekeepers” wanted to successfully play a scene of revealing secrets and achieve a psychological and political effect ...

    Here is how Churchill talks about this in his memoirs: “After the plenary meeting on July 24, when everyone got up from the table at which the conference was taking place and parted, Truman, along with Stalin and both of their translators, turned to the only one in the hall the big window ... Stalin seemed to be in awe. New bomb? Extraordinary power? What a luck! "Stalin maintained a cheerful and good-natured expression on his face, congratulated the Americans on having new weapons, and the conversation between the two powerful leaders quickly ended."

    Churchill soon approached the American president: “How did this work?” Truman was disappointed: "Stalin did not ask a single question and did not show any interest to such an extent - Truman subsequently repeated this in his memoirs - which one might think - he did not understand anything." (Tolubko V.F. Nedelin. The first commander-in-chief of strategic ones. M.: Young Guard, 1979).

    “... Having returned from the meeting,” wrote Marshal Zhukov in his memoirs, “I.V. Stalin in my presence told V.M. Molotov about the conversation with G. Truman. V.M. Molotov immediately said: “They are filling their price.” I.V. Stalin laughed: “Let them stuff. It will be necessary today to talk with Kurchatov about speeding up our work. ” I realized that it was about creating an atomic bomb ”(G. Zhukov. Memoirs and Reflections. 10th ed. T. 3. M.: News, 1990.).

    c) “What is happening?”
    The phrase “Gentlemen, what is happening now?” magically affects the manipulator, because it is aimed at forcing him to explain his motives for behavior, that is, to tell about what he really I would really like to hide from my victim.

    In any case, this issue allows you to seize the initiative in the negotiations, gain time to adjust your behavior strategy.

    d) "Bringing to the absurd"
    After all, I just want everything to always be my way. B. Shaw.

    Absurdity is something illogical, wrong, contrary to common sense. An absurd statement is meaningful and because of its contradictory nature is false. For example, the statement “If it rains, then the forest is beyond the mountain” is meaningless, and the statement “Watermelon was divided into three unequal halves” is not meaningless, but absurd. The logical law of contradiction indicates the inadmissibility of simultaneous affirmation and denial. By tying the opponent’s words to an absurd statement, we devalue these words in his own eyes.

    Most importantly, when using this technique, do not forget to return negotiations to a constructive direction. You can reduce to absurdity any thesis, any statement, any conclusion.

    Example. In negotiations about the cost of training services, the client gently presses:
    - You know, we are considering various proposals, not only yours, we are ready to start cooperation only on condition that the cost is reduced by twenty percent of the amount declared by you.
    “Okay,” I reply, “why only twenty?” Let's get fifty? Or is it better just a hundred? This training can cost you free of charge, let me invite you to one of my students, they need to get experience in conducting trainings, they will be ready to do the job without a fee. And everyone is happy: I train my staff, you get training for free, a young business coach gets invaluable experience.
    “Well,” the client begins to hesitate, “we still need a high-quality product, it is unlikely that a trainer without experience will be able to provide it ...
    ” “Ah, you need quality, then let's talk constructively ....”

    Most people find it difficult to use this technique in real negotiations, fear is triggered, "suddenly they will take me for an idiot."

    An attempt to maintain their invented image, sadly, weakens the negotiator.

    e) “I see what you are doing” ...
    Manipulation is a hidden influence to achieve selfish goals. As soon as the manipulation becomes visible to the victim, it immediately loses its meaning. It becomes useless. Exploitation in manipulation makes a person refuse to manipulate interaction and “knocks” him out of the prepared scenario. Although an experienced negotiator, when he is caught on manipulating the interlocutor, he will simply switch sharply to another topic and, as it were, does not notice that you have detected his “dishonest” methods.

    Example.In the negotiations, you see how opponents play the ancient, like the world, endgame “good and evil policeman”. "Angry" goes to an open confrontation, exerts constant pressure on you, in every way provokes. "Good", on the contrary, as if seeking to understand how it would stand on your position. And then, under any pretext, the “bad” is removed from the negotiation process, and the “good”, taking advantage of the confidence and sympathy that has arisen, concludes the negotiations in a constructive manner, on the terms he needs.

    You can, as if by chance, ask with whom it is better to have a conversation in the first place: with the one who attacks you, or those who protect you? The play in front of you will be minimized.

    Where to find out more: March 5 - Dmitry Kotkin's master class “Methods of positive counteraction to negative influence"

    Friends, as we wrote from March 2 to 5, our online PRO + Skills conference will be held . On March 5, there will be a master class by Dmitry Kotkin, devoted entirely to negotiation topics:

    Methods of positive counteraction to negative influence
    • 5 ways to build partnerships
    • The principles of psychological aikido as a way out of pressure
    • 6 magic phrases extinguishing aggression
    • 5 types of compliments
    • Negotiating energy management techniques

    If you want to delve into the topic of negotiations and in practice deal with negotiation tools, we will be glad to see you.

    Participation in the conference is paid - 980 rubles. in 4 days. With this money in St. Petersburg you can take a taxi to the airport (in Moscow it’s not enough :)). And you can spend 4 evenings developing your key skills.

    "Negotiating book of quick recipes as a gift to the habrachans participating in the conference

    Traditionally, we would like to give a present to the Habrachians who decide to join our conference. This time, a gift will be a new book by Dmitry Kotkin “Negotiating book of quick recipes”:
    1. Practical recommendations for all occasions
    2. "Tin" or what are tough negotiations
    3. How to "push" when bidding
    4. To yield, not to yield in negotiations? That's the question!
    5. How to communicate with difficult people
    6. How to recognize manipulations and quickly neutralize them
    7. How to resist sexual manipulation?
    8. How to compliment during negotiations
    9. How to learn to be unpredictable
    10. When is it better to refuse to negotiate?
    11. How to conduct commercial negotiations in a foreign territory
    12. Laws of Fencing Tactics - Tough Tactics
    13. How to negotiate prices
    14. The art of buying. Drive shopping or how to buy goods in the markets of Southeast Asia
    15. An example of real negotiations with the Chinese from graduates of the School of Negotiators "SHIP"
    16. How to negotiate wages
    17. How to negotiate with officials
    18. A few simple tips on how to behave in negotiations to achieve your goal
    19. Analysis of real negotiation situations

    This book is not in the public domain, nor on sale. But we will send its electronic version as a gift, for this, in response to confirmation of payment for participation in the conference, write: "I am from Habr, I want a gift . "

    Get on the PRO + Skills Online Conference and receive a book as a gift >>

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