Controversial Negotiation Techniques You Should Try

Discover the controversial negotiation techniques that will push boundaries and challenge traditional approaches.


Negotiation is a fundamental skill in both personal and professional settings. It involves reaching an agreement through communication and compromise. Traditionally, negotiation techniques have been based on conventional wisdom and widely-accepted practices.

However, challenging these traditional approaches can lead to breakthroughs and more advantageous outcomes. Controversial negotiation techniques push the boundaries of traditional norms and offer alternative strategies to achieve optimal results.

In this article, we will explore five controversial negotiation techniques that you should consider trying. By being open to these unconventional approaches, you can expand your negotiation toolkit and increase your chances of success in various situations.

Technique 1: The Anchoring Effect

The anchoring effect is a powerful and controversial negotiation technique that involves setting an initial offer or anchor point that heavily influences the subsequent negotiation process. This technique is based on the principle that the human mind tends to rely heavily on the first piece of information presented when making judgments or decisions.

By strategically setting an anchor point, negotiators can influence the other party’s perception of what is reasonable, acceptable, or expected. For example, if you are negotiating the price of a car, you can deliberately start with a high anchor price to make the final negotiated price seem more reasonable and appealing to the other party.

Benefits of using the anchoring effect include gaining a psychological advantage in the negotiation and potentially securing a better outcome for yourself. By establishing the initial anchor, you are influencing the other party’s perception and setting the tone for the entire negotiation. This can help you to start the negotiation from a position of strength and increase the likelihood of achieving your desired outcome.

However, it is important to consider the drawbacks and ethical implications associated with the anchoring effect. One key drawback is that if the anchor you set is too extreme or unreasonable, it may backfire and harm the negotiation process. The other party may reject the offer outright or become defensive, resulting in a breakdown of trust and cooperation.

To effectively use the anchoring effect in negotiation, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Research and understand the market value: Before setting your anchor, do thorough research to identify a reasonable and justifiable starting point. This will help ensure that your anchor is realistic and within the realm of what the other party may consider.

  2. Provide supporting information: When presenting your anchor, be prepared to provide evidence or reasoning to support it. This will make your anchor appear more credible and increase its chances of being accepted.

  3. Be flexible and open to adjustments: The anchoring effect should not be seen as a rigid tactic. Instead, it is a starting point that can be adjusted and negotiated from. Be open to revising your anchor based on the other party’s response and willingness to engage in the negotiation.

  4. Use other negotiation techniques in conjunction: The anchoring effect is most effective when combined with other negotiation techniques. For example, you can use the anchoring effect to set a favorable initial price, and then employ the nibble strategy to secure additional concessions or benefits.

In conclusion, the anchoring effect is a controversial negotiation technique that can have both benefits and drawbacks. It can give you a psychological advantage and enhance your negotiation power, but it must be used strategically and ethically. By following the tips provided, you can leverage the anchoring effect to achieve favorable outcomes in your negotiations.

Technique 2: The Deadlines Dilemma

Artificial deadlines can be a powerful tool in negotiation, but they also raise ethical concerns. This technique involves setting and leveraging deadlines to create a sense of urgency and increase your negotiation power. Here, we will delve into the nuances of using artificial deadlines effectively while remaining mindful of ethical considerations.

Introduction to Using Artificial Deadlines

Artificial deadlines are self-imposed or arbitrary time limits that you set during a negotiation. They can be used strategically to create a sense of urgency and prompt the other party to make a decision or agreement. By introducing a deadline, you are signaling that there is limited time available for negotiation, which may incentivize the other party to compromise or agree to your terms.

Examining Ethical Considerations

Although the use of artificial deadlines can be a valuable negotiation technique, it is crucial to consider the ethical implications. When setting deadlines, it is essential to ensure that they are realistic and reasonable. Setting arbitrary or overly aggressive deadlines can be seen as manipulative and could damage the trust between parties. It is important to maintain transparency by clearly communicating the purpose and reasons behind the deadline.

Leveraging Deadlines to Increase Negotiation Power

To effectively leverage artificial deadlines, there are several strategies you can employ:

  1. Demonstrate the consequences: Clearly articulate the consequences of not meeting the deadline. This can include the loss of opportunities or increased costs. By highlighting the negative outcomes, you create a stronger sense of urgency and motivate the other party to reach an agreement.

  2. Create a mutual deadline: Instead of setting a unilateral deadline, propose a mutual one. This approach fosters a cooperative spirit and allows both parties to feel invested in meeting the deadline. By emphasizing the mutually beneficial nature of the agreement, you can increase the chances of reaching a satisfactory outcome.

  3. Maintain flexibility: While the use of deadlines can drive a negotiation forward, it is essential to remain flexible if necessary. Be open to extending or adjusting the deadline if there are legitimate reasons or if progress is being made towards an agreement. This demonstrates your willingness to work collaboratively and can strengthen the overall negotiation process.

Mitigating Ethical Concerns

To mitigate ethical concerns associated with artificial deadlines, consider the following:

  1. Transparency: Clearly communicate your reasons for setting a deadline and ensure that it is fair and reasonable.

  2. Respect for the other party: Avoid using artificial deadlines as a means of manipulation or coercion. Treat the other party with respect and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

  3. Maintaining trust: Strive to maintain trust throughout the negotiation process. If the use of artificial deadlines damages trust, it can have long-term negative consequences for the relationship.

Real-life Example:

Imagine you are negotiating the terms of a contract with a potential client. To increase your negotiation power, you set a deadline by explaining that due to a high demand for your services, you have limited availability. This creates a sense of urgency and encourages the client to make a prompt decision to secure your services. However, it is crucial to ensure that your claim of limited availability is truthful and not exaggerated. Transparency and honesty are key in maintaining trust during the negotiation.

In conclusion, the use of artificial deadlines can be an effective negotiation technique, but it is essential to approach it with ethical considerations in mind. By setting realistic deadlines, demonstrating the consequences of inaction, and maintaining transparency, you can leverage deadlines to increase your negotiation power while preserving trust and integrity.

Technique 3: The Nibble Strategy

The nibble strategy is a controversial negotiation technique that involves making small requests or demands after reaching a larger agreement. The idea behind this strategy is to gradually extract additional concessions from the other party without arousing suspicion or resistance.

Definition and explanation of the nibble strategy

The nibble strategy is based on the principle that people are more likely to agree to a small additional request after already agreeing to a larger one. It involves making seemingly insignificant last-minute demands or requests that, although small in themselves, can add up to significant gains over time.

For example, let’s say you have just negotiated a car deal with a salesperson. You have agreed on the price, the financing terms, and the extras included in the package. At the last moment, before finalizing the deal, you ask if the salesperson can throw in a set of floor mats for free. Since the cost of floor mats is relatively low compared to the overall price of the car, the salesperson might be more inclined to agree, considering the entire deal has already been almost finalized.

Real-life examples of when to use it

The nibble strategy can be employed in various negotiation scenarios, both in personal and professional settings. Here are some real-life examples of when it might be useful:

  1. Business negotiations: Let’s say you have just closed a deal with a supplier for a certain amount of products at a specific price. Before signing the contract, you request a minor adjustment to the delivery schedule or ask for the inclusion of additional technical support without any extra cost. The supplier may be more willing to agree to these small requests to maintain the overall agreement.

  2. Buying a house: After negotiating and agreeing on the purchase price of a house, you ask the seller to include certain appliances, furniture, or fixtures that were initially not part of the deal. The previous agreement sets a precedent, making it more likely for the seller to agree to these additional requests.

Ethical implications to be aware of

While the nibble strategy can be an effective way to gain small concessions or extras in a negotiation, it is essential to be mindful of ethical considerations. Here are some cautions to keep in mind when utilizing this technique:

  1. Building trust: Employing the nibble strategy too frequently or excessively can erode trust between parties. If the other party feels like you are constantly trying to take advantage of them, it can harm the overall negotiation process and long-term relationship.

  2. Transparency and fairness: It is crucial to ensure that the additional requests made through the nibble strategy are reasonable, fair, and aligned with the overall negotiation objectives. Making excessive or unreasonable demands can create animosity and damage the negotiation process.

  3. Risk of retraction: The nibble strategy carries the risk that the other party may retract their previous agreement if they feel manipulated or deceived. Therefore, it is crucial to use this technique judiciously and avoid pushing too far, especially in sensitive or high-stakes negotiations.

In conclusion, the nibble strategy can be a powerful tool in negotiation when used judiciously and ethically. It capitalizes on the psychological tendency of people to be more willing to grant small additional requests after reaching a larger agreement. By employing this technique cautiously and being mindful of ethical considerations, negotiators can potentially secure additional concessions without jeopardizing the overall negotiation outcomes.

Technique 4: The Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine

The good cop/bad cop routine is a controversial negotiation technique that involves one negotiator playing the role of the “good cop,” appearing friendly, cooperative, and willing to make concessions, while the other negotiator plays the role of the “bad cop,” being tough, demanding, and unwilling to compromise. This technique is often used in law enforcement interrogations but has also been adapted for use in business negotiations.

Explanation of the Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine

In the good cop/bad cop routine, the “bad cop” takes on an aggressive stance, making unreasonable demands, and putting pressure on the other party. This creates a sense of fear, intimidation, and urgency. The “good cop,” on the other hand, appears sympathetic, understanding, and reasonable. They may provide reassurance, offer concessions, and try to build a rapport with the other party.

Discussion on its Effectiveness and Potential Drawbacks

The good cop/bad cop routine can be effective in negotiations because it exploits the psychological tendencies of individuals. The contrast between the tough, unyielding stance of the “bad cop” and the friendly, accommodating approach of the “good cop” can create a sense of relief and gratitude when the “good cop” eventually makes concessions or compromises.

This technique can also be effective in extracting information or getting the other party to reveal their true positions. The pressure exerted by the “bad cop” often leads the other party to let their guard down, making them more likely to disclose information they would have otherwise kept confidential.

However, the good cop/bad cop routine has several potential drawbacks. Firstly, it can come across as manipulative and insincere, damaging trust and future relationships with the other party. If the other party suspects that the routine is being used, it can create a negative perception of the negotiators and undermine the negotiation process.

Additionally, this technique may not work with every individual or in every negotiation scenario. Some parties may see through the tactic or react negatively to the aggressive behavior of the “bad cop.” It is important to assess the specific dynamics of the negotiation and the personalities involved before deciding to use this technique.

Tips for Utilizing this Technique without Crossing Ethical Boundaries

When using the good cop/bad cop routine, it is crucial to be mindful of ethical boundaries and ensure that the technique is used in a fair and respectful manner. Here are some tips for effectively utilizing this technique without crossing ethical lines:

  1. Maintain professionalism and respect: It’s essential to strike a balance between being firm and assertive as the “bad cop” and maintaining a respectful and courteous demeanor. Avoid personal attacks or offensive language that may be perceived as unprofessional.

  2. Communicate openly and honestly: Although the good cop/bad cop routine involves some level of deception, it is important not to outright lie or mislead the other party. Honesty and transparency should still be priorities in the negotiation process.

  3. Use the technique sparingly: The good cop/bad cop routine should be used strategically and sparingly. Overuse of this technique can diminish its effectiveness and further erode trust between the parties. Reserve it for situations where it is most likely to have an impact.

  4. Be aware of cultural and individual differences: The effectiveness and appropriateness of the good cop/bad cop routine can vary based on cultural norms and individual preferences. It is essential to be mindful of these differences and adapt your approach accordingly.

  5. Focus on win-win outcomes: While the good cop/bad cop routine may create a sense of pressure on the other party, it is important to ultimately work towards a mutually beneficial agreement. Strive for win-win outcomes that satisfy the interests and objectives of both parties.

By following these tips and using the good cop/bad cop routine responsibly, negotiators can leverage this controversial technique to potentially gain an advantage while still maintaining integrity and ethical conduct in their negotiations.

Technique 5: The Negative Feedback Approach

The negative feedback approach is a controversial negotiation technique that involves using criticism and highlighting flaws in the other party’s proposal or position. This technique aims to create doubt and uncertainty in the other party’s mind, potentially leading them to make concessions in order to address the perceived weaknesses.

Overview of the negative feedback approach in negotiation

In a negotiation, the negative feedback approach entails challenging the other party’s arguments, proposals, or ideas by providing constructive criticism or highlighting potential risks and drawbacks. By pointing out flaws or weaknesses in the other party’s position, you can create doubt and uncertainty, which may lead them to revise their offer or make concessions.

This technique can help shift the balance of power in negotiations, as it puts the other party on the defensive and forces them to reevaluate their position. It can also be used to test the other party’s understanding of the issue at hand and their level of preparedness, potentially revealing hidden weaknesses or gaps in their knowledge.

Pros and cons of this technique

The negative feedback approach has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the main benefits is that it can create leverage and potentially lead the other party to reconsider their position or offer. By highlighting weaknesses or concerns, you can position yourself as a critical thinker who is thorough and rigorous in evaluating proposals.

Additionally, the negative feedback approach can help uncover information that may not have been shared initially or force the other party to disclose additional details. This can provide you with valuable insights and potentially give you an upper hand in the negotiation.

However, this technique also comes with risks and challenges. It can create a hostile and confrontational atmosphere if not handled delicately. If the other party perceives your feedback as overly negative or personal attacks, it may escalate tensions and hinder progress in the negotiation.

Moreover, the negative feedback approach can strain the relationship between the parties, potentially jeopardizing future collaborations or partnerships. It is essential to consider the long-term implications and assess whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential damage to the relationship.

Cautions on its potential risks and how to mitigate them

When employing the negative feedback approach, it is crucial to be mindful of the potential risks and take steps to mitigate them. Here are some cautions to consider:

  1. Maintain a constructive and respectful tone: Approach the feedback in a manner that is professional, objective, and focused on the issue at hand rather than attacking the person or their character. This can help minimize defensiveness and keep the negotiation productive.

  2. Choose your battles wisely: Not all issues or proposals warrant negative feedback. Be selective in identifying areas where criticism is warranted and focus on raising concerns that are significant and relevant to the negotiation. This will help maintain credibility and avoid coming across as overly critical.

  3. Offer solutions or alternatives: Instead of solely criticizing the other party’s proposal, try to provide constructive suggestions or alternative options. This demonstrates a willingness to collaborate and find mutually beneficial solutions, rather than simply tearing down the other party’s ideas.

  4. Build rapport and empathy: To mitigate the risks of damaging the relationship, take the time to establish rapport and empathy with the other party. This can help create a foundation of trust and make it easier to deliver negative feedback without causing offense or hostility.

  5. Be open to receiving feedback: Just as you are providing negative feedback, be prepared to receive it as well. Create an environment that encourages open and honest communication, where both parties can share their thoughts and concerns without fear of reprisal.

By being mindful of these cautions and taking the necessary steps to address them, you can effectively leverage the negative feedback approach while minimizing the potential risks and maintaining a constructive negotiation process.

In conclusion, the negative feedback approach is a controversial technique that can be effective in certain negotiation situations. However, it should be used with caution and accompanied by ethical considerations. By employing this technique judiciously and in a respectful manner, you can potentially increase your negotiation power while preserving the relationship with the other party.


In conclusion, exploring and experimenting with controversial negotiation techniques can be a powerful way to challenge traditional approaches and achieve better outcomes in negotiations. Throughout this article, we have discussed five techniques that may appear controversial but can be effective if used wisely: the anchoring effect, the deadlines dilemma, the nibble strategy, the good cop/bad cop routine, and the negative feedback approach.

The anchoring effect, which involves making an initial offer that sets the tone for the entire negotiation, can be a powerful tool to influence the final outcome. However, it requires careful consideration and flexibility to avoid anchoring too high or too low, which could potentially harm the negotiation.

Artificial deadlines, the focus of the deadlines dilemma technique, can be strategically used to create a sense of urgency and increase negotiation power. While this technique can be effective, it is crucial to be aware of ethical considerations and avoid manipulating the other party.

The nibble strategy, where small concessions or additional requests are made at the end of a negotiation, can help to secure extra value without significantly impacting the overall agreement. However, it is important to apply this technique in a fair and ethical manner, ensuring that it does not undermine trust or damage the negotiation relationship.

The good cop/bad cop routine, often seen in movies, can be a powerful psychological tactic to influence the other party’s perception and enhance negotiation outcomes. However, it is essential to utilize this technique ethically, avoiding crossing boundaries and damaging relationships.

The negative feedback approach involves strategically highlighting potential issues or concerns to create leverage in negotiations. While this technique can be effective, it should be used with caution to prevent damaging the negotiation process and relationship.

As with any negotiation technique, it is crucial to consider ethical implications and assess the potential risks of using controversial techniques. While they can offer advantages in specific situations, it is important to approach negotiations with integrity, respect, and fairness.

In conclusion, negotiation is a skill that can be continually developed and refined. By experimenting with various techniques, including controversial ones, you can discover what works best for you in different scenarios. However, always remember to prioritize ethical considerations and never compromise your integrity in the pursuit of negotiation success.