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Counter the Negotiation Hardball Tactic of Belittling Your Alternatives

In a negotiation, there's a chance of encountering various negotiation hardball tactics. One such tactic is belittling the other party's alternatives. This technique serves to make the negotiator feel that their options are limited, thus pushing them to settle for less than they desire or deserve. We have talked about this tactic before on the blog.


Today, we have a special case study with Gina who went to her manager for a pay raise.


Powerful executive woman denying negotiation hardball tactics
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Understanding the Hardball Tactic: Belittling Your Alternatives


At its core, belittling your alternatives is a psychological play. The tactic involves diminishing the attractiveness of the alternatives available to the negotiator, making the current offer seem as the best or only viable option.


Why Do People Use This negotiation hardball Tactic?


Control: By making one believe that their choices are limited, the negotiator is placed in a position of lesser power.


To Expedite Agreement: If an individual believes they have no good alternatives, they're more likely to quickly agree to terms.


How can this negotiation hardball Tactic play out?


Gina had been with her organization for five years. Recognizing her hard work, commitment, and the increasing market rates for her role, she decided to approach her manager for a pay raise.


During the discussion, her manager responded, "Gina, you should consider yourself fortunate to be part of this incredible organization. No other company out there would value you as we do."


Here, Gina's manager used the tactic of belittling her alternatives. He insinuated that Gina's value is recognized only in the current organization and she would be undervalued elsewhere.


Strategies to Counteract Belittling of Alternatives


a. Research and Preparedness: Before entering any negotiation, be well-prepared. In Gina's case, having data on market salary rates for her position and her contributions could be invaluable.


b. Acknowledge but Don't Accept: It's okay to recognize the compliment - "Thank you for valuing my contributions here." However, stand firm on your needs.


c. Ask Open-ended Questions: Questions like, "Why do you think other organizations wouldn't value my contributions?" can place the onus back on the other party to justify their claims.


d. Focus on Mutual Benefits: Remind the other party of the mutual benefits. For instance, Gina can highlight how her performance and her knowledge will continue to benefit the company and that her request is justified.


e. Have a BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement): If you don't have a backup plan, start building one. Knowing you have other options, even if you don't want to pursue them, can give you confidence during negotiations.


Realizing Your Worth and Value


Remind yourself that your worth and value are independent of what your manager says they are. Gina needs to remember all her accomplishments, her skills, and the value she brings. By internalizing her worth, attempts to belittle her alternatives will have no impact.


Negotiation hardball tactics, like belittling alternatives, are designed to sway the balance of power. But with preparation, awareness, and confidence, one can navigate through such tactics effectively.


How to set yourself up for success


One of the foundational elements is the significance of a robust online brand. Your online brand serves as a testament to your professional journey, achievements, and capabilities.


When you've cultivated a network that includes recruiters, industry experts, and thought leaders, you inherently strengthen your position in professional negotiations.


When faced with hardball tactics, especially those that aim to undermine your self-worth, having an online reputation acts as a buffer. Instead of solely relying on the immediate negotiation, you know you have an entire digital footprint showcasing your expertise and value. This backdrop reduces the blow to your self-esteem and reinforces your confidence.


As a starting point for those new to this, or even for seasoned professionals looking to revamp their online presence, I highly recommend fortifying your LinkedIn profile. It's the epicenter of professional networking online. And to aid you in this journey, grab our LinkedIn Profile Checklist. It's comprehensive, user-friendly, and best of all, available for free!


When you are ready to get the pay raise script, download it here. This is the script I have used to ask and receive thousands of dollars in additional compensation. Own your financial security by negotiating the pay raise you deserve!


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