The A-Z of Negotiation Arts: C like Cop

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Good Cop – Bad Cop or Good Guy – Bad Guy during the negotiation

It doesn´t matter what you call it. This negotiation tactic belongs to the unfair negotiation techniques. It works, because it calls on a pattern which a lot of people know, and for whom a fitting autopilot applies.

A negotiation partner faces the opposite party, is friendly, attentive and nice. The other is unfriendly, perch, repellent and loud. The Bad Guy questions the person on a people level, doubts everything and interrupts all the time, when the other person tries to reason his/her points.

The Good Cop coalesces with the opposite side, shows lack of understanding for his or her unfriendly partner and reinforces the effect with that.

Why Good Cop – Bad Cop is being used over and over again and still works

This game is a clear violation of common rules. The good guy weighs me in safety, anesthetizes me with his or her friendliness and with that makes sure that my defense mechanisms are being shut down. The more violent is the weft which follows when the Bad Guy starts.

Many people know this mechanism since their youth. Either the parents worked with it, or they were confronted by it in school or amongst friends. With that a reaction scheme is set already.

Those who use this negotiation tactic, notice that they have (short) success with it. Quite easily it becomes an automated behavior, which is not questioned anymore, but is simply being used.

How to get out of there

Take into account that someone will treat you in an unfair way. During the preparations, consider with which rules you want to go through with the negotiation and how you will handle unfair attacks.

It is important to recognize the game early – Repel the beginnings!

Then you can just relax, smile and say:

“That’s quite interesting, You want to play the good old Good Cop – Bad Cop with me.”

Less smug and a bit more matter-of-factly you should have a Smart No ready for unfair attacks during the negotiation:

“I would like to come to a good agreement with you. However, I feel quite attacked by your behavior (describe exactly what you perceive) and so I cannot continue negotiating with you. So please let us discuss how to treat each other and how to continue the negotiation any further.”