Call His Bluff AKA: I dare you, the reveal, put up or shut up.
Description: Sometimes you have to call. Stay calm, don’t escalate the tension, and make sure it stays his choice. “If that’s what you feel you have to do, then that’s what you’ll do.”
Sample Usage: David Simmons leaned across the table and locked eyes with Bob “The Bear”, and - for the second time in 10 minutes - announced,
“There’s another software firm that StorageWorld could use to design the site. That’s all I’m saying.”
Bob considered for a moment, and then calmly said, “Use them then.” Simmons cocked his head and slowly sat back in his seat. Alvin started stammering something as he thumbed his phone frantically, but Bob gestured for him to shut up and calm down. Then he continued.
“Seriously, Dave, if you think you can get a better deal by starting over again with someone new, go ahead. And just know – there are no hard feelings. But when you call us back in 8 weeks to get your project back on track, it’s not going to be any cheaper or any quicker. Of course you have other options – and so do we. But rushing to meet arbitrary deadlines when we aren’t even breaking even is no way to do business.”
Simmons sighed, and seemed to ponder a new situation.
“Ok, Bob. I’m sure we can work something out. Let’s all talk it through over lunch.”
Intent: You are probably either responding to a blatant lie or you are struggling to get back above your Need position.
Category: Counter and redirect
PIFH (Power/Influence; Fear or Hope): Power – because at this point you don’t have anything else to lose. The most power you have in a negotiation is when you stand up to leave the table – and this is usually the introduction to your Walk Away.
Counter: If someone calls your bluff, you can capitulate or take action – fold or call. Some people try to raise the stakes even further with another bluff.
Combination / Related: Why?, Appeal to Reason, Silence, and Walk Away
Notes: A final line of defense is to simply call his bluff. If he applies pressure, tries to manipulate you or lies about something – call him on it. Then stand up and start packing to go. One of two things will happen. He may change his tune, acknowledge that he was taking his best shot and start negotiating honestly. Or he may let you go. Either way, you are better off than allowing him to continue playing you for a fool.
Calling someone’s bluff is an act of courage – but it shouldn’t cause conflict or humiliation. Make sure that A) you still want to do business with someone you’ve just caught bluffing, and B) you think that the deal still makes sense. If you insist on your point of view, you may be able to get him to drop his pretense. If you accuse him of fraud, dishonesty, or stupidity, then you may win the point but you’ll lose the deal.