Name: Crazy Guy
AKA: Loose Cannon, Madman
Description: You’ve become so irrational and unpredictable – they had better start making concessions and giving in if they want a deal. This is like Good Cop Bad Cop, but you are on your own.
Sample usage (Alvin and Bob): Bob cursed himself as he returned home from the meeting with Alvin. “I came on really strong back there. I’ve got to rein it in.”
The meeting between Alvin and Bob was supposed to tackle 2 open issues in their ongoing partnership discussion – one was about ownership of IP, and the other about international expansion. Both were sore subjects with Bob, and he had been through them so many times with clients and service providers that he had no patience left.
The good news was that he seemed to have won the argument. Alvin had agreed to Bob’s terms – pretty quickly, actually.
The bad news was that it was an argument and not a discussion. As soon as Alvin brought up the subject of international markets, Bob let him have it with both barrels. Alvin agreed with him, but then just squirmed in his seat until he was able to escape.
If Bob wanted to build this agreement into a real business, he would have to keep a lid on his temper and act more like a rational partner.
Intent: Scare the other side into making concessions, giving ground, and signing a deal that is better for you. Can also disqualify you as a potential partner.
Style: Competitive. Maybe Avoiding. This is a red flag for many negotiators, and some people will avoid aggressive, irrational counter-parties.
Category: Relationship Manager
Counter: Appeal to Reason, Recess, and Walk Away
Note: Why use Crazy Guy? If you have power – defined as many alternatives and no costs to switch counter-parties – and no need for a continuing relationship, then Crazy Guy can work well to leverage your strong position. Among people who don’t like confrontation, Crazy Guy is frightening and intimidating. If you are negotiating for a one-off transaction, then this could definitely add a few percentage points to your bottom line.
Negotiators who want some kind of long-term relationship, however, will find that Crazy Guy works against them. Even if only one of your variables or some aspect of your attitude/conduct seems irrational, it could disqualify you from consideration as a strategic partner. The downside of Crazy Guy: you just don’t seem like an ideal strategic partner. We’ll go to the Crazy Guy for a bargain on office supplies or maybe a sandwich – but we aren’t going to stake the future of the business on an irrational, potentially unstable partner.
What if someone Crazy Guys you? The immediate counters are Appeal To Reason and Recess. You may want to ask for a new counter-part as one of your negotiating variables. The problem with the most obvious counters – Appeal to Reason, Recess, Breathe, Call His Bluff, Why? – are that they are based on rational reactions. The whole idea behind Crazy Guy is that, if done correctly, makes one seem completely irrational. At the end of the day, if you can’t get him to break character and start behaving better, then you may have no option but to Walk Away and keep going.