Manipulation; the Fastest Way to Zap Your Power in Negotiations

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There is a fine line between negotiation and manipulation. Using manipulation in your negotiation zaps your power and reduces the successful outcome.  Negotiation is discussing something formally in order to make an agreement. Manipulation is to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means as to serve one’s own advantage. Many people use manipulation as a negotiation strategy. Sometimes it easier for them to manipulate a response instead of simply asking for what they want or need. People often learn manipulation as a child in certain households. They have to learn how to manipulate the situation in order to gain an advantage for themselves that they normally would never get by asking. As a result, they typically carry this behavior into their adult lives. When people get results through manipulation it may be easier to continue that behavior instead of being direct and asking. Good negotiators will ask direct questions and deal with any rejection or unfavorable responses as part of their negotiation strategy. Manipulators normally do not ask direct questions. They usually hint at what they want in a way that gets them the desired result. If they get the desired result, the behavior typically will continue.

Recently a person visited the Think Like A Negotiator site and opted in to the mailing list. Shortly after the person sent an email asking when the Think Like A Negotiator book would be in Barnes & Noble because he had a gift certificate he wanted to use to buy it there. The email was signed with his name only. I responded that it would most likely not be in Barnes & Noble anytime soon if at all but is available on Kindle for 99 cents (link). At this point in the communication he had a choice to attempt to negotiate or manipulate an outcome. His response indicated he didn’t have Kindle, was on disability and a senior and didn’t have the money to buy it but really needed the information for a family estate issue he was handling and what did I suggest he do. This time, he signed it with his former military rank (my email has a signature block with my retired military rank in it).  This is not a request. He was hinting at what he wanted instead  of coming right out and asking for it. He was using his situation and his affinity with me as a veteran to get me to respond by offering to send him a free book. Perhaps if he asked for what he wanted vs using manipulation tactics, I might have had a different response. I basically said I didn’t  know what to tell him. He didn’t respond after that.

When a person uses manipulation to get what they want on a consistent basis, I believe it starts to erode their power. Asking   for what you want in a direct manner is so much more powerful than hinting at it. When my children were old enough to ask for what they wanted and told me they were hungry, I would ask them to reframe it and ask for what they want. My daughter used to absolutely hate it when I said that. Why did she have to ask? She was announcing she was hungry, I should have simply moved to the solution. She didn’t understand why she should have to ask. Now she understands it’s more powerful to ask for exactly what you want and she always directly asks. As a result she has had great success in her life.

Do you ask for exactly what you want or do you hint around and hope it will get you a response? Learn how to get your ask in gear and ask for exactly what you want. You may notice that you feel more powerful the more direct you are in your communication.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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