The Negotiator Magazine

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  1. Flinch

            A flinch may be an uncontrolled response to an inadequate offer or concession. This may sincerely indicate the unacceptable nature of the offer being conveyed. On the other hand, manipulative negotiators may employ a contrived “flinch” to silently challenge the adequacy of opponent opening offers or concessions. Negotiators who encounter what they consider to be truly reactive flinches should decide if their announced positions are clearly unacceptable. On the other hand, negotiators who think opponents are using disingenuous flinches to induce them to bid against themselves with consecutive position changes should: (1) recognize the manipulative nature of their opponents and (2) be careful not to change positions until they have obtained position changes from their adversaries.

  1. Wringing of Hands

            This is frequently a sign of frustration or tension. Distraught individuals often twist their hands and fingers into seemingly painful contortions. This signal usually emanates from persons who are anxious regarding aggressive tactics being employed by opponents or about wholly unsatisfactory negotiation developments.

  1. Tightly Gripping Arm Rests/Drumming Fingers on Table

            Impatient or frustrated persons frequently grip the arm rests of their chairs tightly or drum their fingers on the table. Negotiators who exhibit such behavior are most likely displeased by the lack of progress they think is occurring.

  1. Biting Lower Lip/Running Fingers Through Hair

            These signals usually indicate stress or frustration. They emanate from persons who are disappointed by the lack of negotiation progress and/or their perceived opponent intransigence.

  1. Eyes Wandering/Looking at Watch

            These are signs of boredom and disinterest. Such signals would suggest a serious lack of interest in what is being said. Negotiators who encounter such signs should ask their opponents questions to force them to become more involved in the substantive discussions.


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April 2007