Not being the market leader, we tend to get bullied by big customers, who extract a lot of concessions. Oftentimes we feel helpless. Is there a way around this? -Amy of Manila.
 
Numerous sellers as well as buyers get bullied by more powerful counter-parts everyday in this imperfect negotiating world. Though a reality, it is not an unavoidable fate for weaker parties!
 
Let’s first understand how bullying per se occurs and thereafter find out how we can protect ourselves preventively as well as remedially when we negotiate.
 
Lessons from Youthful Experiences
My recollection as a bullying victim remains quite vivid, unbridled by repressive defense shields the mind uses to block emotional and psychological trauma.  I still remember the adrenaline rush of being the gazelle outrunning lions.  Fortunately, dexterous evasive maneuversin ‘patintero’kept me from being an ‘alpha meal’. After my last grade school summer break, I reached a level of physical ascendancy accompanied by a ‘macho’ resolve.I transmogrified into an alpha male wolf, territorial, oftentimesleading my own pack,in a reckoning of sorts, overcompensating then as anew bully.  Because my bully persona tends to control outcomes, I felt undoubtedly more reassuredrelative to when I was the victim.
 
However, by the middle of my adolescence, I realized that striking a balance worked much better for human relations. I also surmised it requires less plastic surgery in the future. Bullies (siga) also chance upon counter bullies (maton), the outcome of which is usually unpleasant. I learned that having power and not abusing itelicited more respect. Thus I transformed myself to a more balanced player, promotingproductive exchanges while relationships remain engendered.Paradoxically, it seemed to receive beyond a fair share of return without having to terrorize anyone. Balance is utopia indeed, but let’s set foot once again on imperfect Earth.
 
The Dynamics of the Bullying and Being Victimized
Bullies secure leverage from power absent in the victim. But as the cliche goes: ‘it takes two to tango’. The victim unknowingly submits to bullying after realizing the lack of power to resist the bully’s impositions. This in turn provides the bully “encouraging” feedback to continuethe behavior. The same is practically true in business negotiations. Power rests disproportionately on one party who knowingly uses such leverage to extract an unbalanced amount of concessions from the other party. In turn, the other party surrenders concessions like sacrificial lambs to appease a ‘god’simply to be spared harm, at the cost of receiving mere vestiges and scraps of a deal!When this is allowed to happen a first time,the bullying behaviorgets rewarded and therefore, repeated.  Reinforcement spirals it down to becomean acceptable habit that pitifully descends further down to be immortalized in an abyss of sacrosanct business rituals!
 
Avoiding and Breaking the Bullying Cycle
For the weaker negotiating party, a well-crafted strategy is half your solution to avoid getting bullied:
·         Nego-mappingpossibilities, probabilities as well asdetermining how to lead negotiations to your preferred outcomesare essential planning components.
·         Predictive knowledge is a great source of power!
·         You likewise need to plug or hide your weaknesses.
·         More importantly, develop relevant counter strengths, before you accede to any meeting.
Never ever ‘walk’ into negotiations without these,unless tragedy tickles your fancy!
 
The other half of the solution intended to break the bullying cycle requires suave execution mastery:
·         Learn whereand how to confidently stonewall (hold ground)complete with the proper word choices, tones and body language,communicating firmness where it matters and flexibility where it is allowable
·         Superior posturing projection is also a necessary skill to master. Project surefootedness without hostility.  Avoid hesitation.  Bullies prey on game, not on suspected fellow predators (maton)they tend to respect. Attain respect as an early milestone.
Then, excellently execute your nego-mapped plan, sensitive to scenario realizations,to completeyour tactical defense.
 
Conclusion
For bullying to prosper it needs a victim. By repositioning a weak position to that of a respectable counterpart, the bully’s appetite for blood will be redirected to a more delectable victim, sparing you the third degree treatment. Concession exchange can then become more balanced and relationship can then be mutually established.
 
Rowen Untivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the country’s leading marketing and sales, strategy and innovation training company.  He is an original developer/training master of three Negotiation Courses (Tactical, Strategic and 3D Language of Negotiation), where related framework, processes, strategies and tools can exclusively be learned. Please send your questions, comments or feedback to mentors@mansmith.net. You can also visit www.mansmith.net.