How to Negotiate With Difficult and Aggressive People

How to negotiate with difficult, aggressive, and controlling people

Posted Oct 19, 2014

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Do you deal with aggressive, intimidating, or controlling people at work or in your personal life? On the surface, these individuals can come across as domineering, confrontational, demanding, hostile, or even abusive. However, with astute approach and intelligent communication, you may turn aggression into cooperation, and condescension into respect.

Below are just a few tips on how to negotiate with difficult individuals, excerpted from my book (click on title): "How to Successfully Handle Aggressive, Intimidating, and Controlling People."

1.  Meet in Private if Possible

When it's safe and possible to do so, negotiate with difficult people in private where they may be more flexible. In most (but not all) cases, avoid disagreements with them in front of others, where they’re more likely to be inflexible (out of their need to be in control, compete and win). The exception is if the difficult individual is hostile and/or abusive, then strong intervention with witnesses may be needed.

2.  Neutralize Their Home Court Advantage

Whenever possible, meet with difficult individuals at a neutral location (i.e. conference room instead of their office, coffee shop instead of their home), to help reduce their sense of home court dominance when speaking with you on their own turf.

3.  Be Assertive and Professional in Communication.

Many difficult people respect those with strength, and listen more to those who communicate with assertiveness.

4.  Bring Solutions

Let the difficult person know that you yourself are in control. If there is an issue, don’t go to the difficult person just to discuss the problem. Go with solutions in mind. Many difficult individuals work most positively with those who present themselves from a position of strength. They’re more willing to communicate and work with those who take the initiative, and lend their cooperation to those who show they can help themselves.

5.  Focus on Consequence 

The ability to identify and assert consequence(s) is one of the most important skills you can use to "stand down" a difficult person. Effectively articulated, consequence gives pause to the challenging individual, and compels him or her to shift from obstruction to cooperation. In my book (click on title) "How to Successfully Handle Aggressive, Intimidating, and Controlling People," consequence is presented as seven different types of power you can utilize to affect positive change. In this book you will also learn how to keep calm, shift from reactive to proactive, defend your boundaries, use humor to disarm difficult behavior, and apply assertive communication skills.

Also available (click on title): “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People”.

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Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. is available as a presenter, workshop facilitator, and private coach. For more information, write to, or visit

© 2014 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright violation may subject the violator to legal prosecution.