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Using the Flinch Negotiation Tactic

In professional real estate negotiation, the flinch negotiation tactic is a physical reaction to communicate shock, dismay or disbelief at what you just heard. Sometimes it is involuntary; your mouth falls open. But often this negotiation technique is more about communicating a message of exasperation.

The flinch negotiation tactic can be fun, with a wide array of responses from involuntary to comical. Besides the mouth falling open various widths, there can also be a closed mouth grimace, bug eye or squint eye, or head flinch. There is even a full body flinch where you might fall on the floor.

Since the flinch negotiation tactic is a physical response, it does not work well in written or email communication. It can sometimes be accomplished over the phone. For example, you might pound the phone on the desk or the wall, then pick it back up and say, “I am sorry … I was so surprised that I dropped the phone.”

When the flinch negotiation tactic is used towards you, the best counter is to be ready to have some fun! Flinch back. Dramatically. Declare a flinching contest to see who can flinch the best. State the obvious, “Oh, I see that you are working on your flinch. Keep working on it!” Hopefully laughter can diffuse the moment of shocked response and allow you to get back on track presenting the facts that support your position.

Some professional negotiators are just waiting for you to flinch so that they can have some fun at your expense. With that in mind, be cautious if you employ the flinch negotiation tactic. You might just find yourself feeling silly.

If you are on the receiving side of the flinch negotiation tactic, bear in mind that embarrassing the opposing negotiator is likely to invoke a hostile response. It might be laughed off now, but beware of a simmering resentment that could crop up at an inopportune time.