By Greg Williams
In negotiations with a bully, you have to watch your hidden thoughts, or those thoughts will have you thinking wrong.
“You have to beat them like they’ve done something really bad. Whip them until their insides are mashed. Can you do that? Will you do that?”
After reading the above, what are your initial thoughts? What images came to mind? Were they the images of a tough guy giving an edict to his underlings, that they dare not disobey? Or, did you consider that something other than the questions posed was occurring?
The thoughts you had about the opening statements, and the images that came to your mind, were determined by what you’ve experienced in life and the outcomes of those experiences. That means, to a degree, your thoughts began to formulate as soon as you read the first few words of the statement. Then, your mind jumped ahead of what you were reading to assume where the unread words would take you. That’s good, and it’s dangerous. The good part stems from the way you assimilate information. The bad part stems from not monitoring your expectations before jumping to judgment.
The words at the opening of this article were spoken by a chef to one of the cooks in an establishment that both were employed. The chef was referring to the correct way to make an omelet. Thus, he was talking about beating and whipping eggs to obtain a certain degree of consistency to make omelets more palatable.
When negotiating with a bully, you must be more cognizant of the way you think. Your thought process will be altered, in the prefrontal cortex area of your brain, the brain region in which complex behavior – decision making – and the moderation of social behavior occurs. This part of your brain will become more active due to the bully’s demeanor. You may experience a higher degree of emotions stemming from the perception of a threat, be it implicit or explicit. Such an emotional state may cause you to disengage from your normal thought process, which could lead you into that dead-end mentioned at the top of this article.
To combat your hidden thoughts, take into consideration what the bully is saying versus what he’s doing. If there’s a disconnect between his words and his actions, pay more attention to his actions (e.g. he says he’s going to run you into the ground in this negotiation while backing away from you and/or smiling nervously). Having this insight and using it to calculate your next action will allow you to think more clearly. That will also allow you to uncover any hidden thoughts that might create a sense of being overly fearful of a negative occurrence being projected on to you.
Negotiating with a bully is always a challenging proposition, but that proposition can be lessened by thinking about the way you think. Heighten your sense of awareness when negotiating with a bully, by being aware of where your thought processes are leading your thoughts… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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