Negotiations can be tough, and sometimes the stakes are high enough to drive the tension through the roof. There are many negotiation tactics that you can use, or that you may encounter during a round of negotiation. Some of them are less ‘moral’ than others, and what you’ll use depends more or less on your negotiating style, and on the gains at stake.
Environment control is one of the less moral strategies you’ll encounter. It’s widely used however, and it’s often done so subtly it might have been used against you and not have even noticed it. Here is what you need to know about this negotiation techniques, and how to counter it.
Using this method is not very nice, but it does give a negotiator the upper hand. Everything is done to maximize the discomfort of the other person: a squeaky chair that will make him feel uncomfortable, positioning him facing the sun, no AC or too much heating, these are all factors that help someone gain control over a round of negotiations.
Additionally, you can control what and when the other person gets to eat or drink in order to reduce their decision making abilities. Don’t take a break until you get what you want. Just politely tell them there are no snacks. Offer them a coffee or coke instead, as caffeinated drinks make people decide faster, without taking a pause to think. A second round of negotiation after lunch is perfect, as people tend to be sleepier at that point with blood flow being diverted to the stomach. That’s why you need to only have a light lunch and no caffeinated drinks. Something sweet to drink will help you stay focused on the task at hand, however. It’s not widely known, but low glucose levels will decrease your will power and negatively influence your decisions.
Most negotiators are not able to counter this strategy, mostly because they are too focused on the negotiation talks. So, the first secret is situational awareness. Don’t hesitate to ask for a different chair or change its location if it inconveniences you in any way. Don’t accept caffeinated drinks out of politeness – ask for some water instead. If no snacks are served, don’t hesitate to request a lunch break for yourself and your team. Ask for a longer lunch break so you avoid being drawn into a round of negotiations where you can’t keep your eyes open, let alone get your demands accepted.
Environment control is a pretty low negotiation technique, but it delivers results. Relatively unimportant details can give the other negotiator the upper hand. That’s why you need to be aware of any aspects that might mean he is using this strategy, and counter it immediately.