Using Humor During Negotiation – Yes Or No

Posted on Aug 14 2013 - 4:37pm by Davis Miller


Business people are constantly struggling to identify and learn the best negotiation tips, mainly when it comes to those who run small businesses, since they’re probably the most prudent negotiators. They’re aware that their negotiation skills will lead the business either to success or failure. If you happen to be in this situation, note that you have to make the most of what you have to close a great deal.

Negotiators are used to making use of their humor when they’re involved in a negotiation, and that might be a good thing. Still, they should know that too many jokes can affect the way others see them, so they have to be moderate. Not everyone has a sense of humor, and as far as business is concerned, people have the tendency to take things really seriously.

Preparation is very important

You have to start by getting to know your opponent, and an efficient background research will help you do that. After you find out various details about the other party, you will be able to tell if humor can help you close the deal. There are certain company owners who don’t like jokes at all, and they will consider you unreliable if you try to be funny.

Prior to participating in a negotiation, you have to think about several important aspects. You have to reflect on your sales goals, on your management tactics, and also on your budget. Plus, you must verify if the individual you’re negotiating with has the authority to make a decision. It is not uncommon for businesses to ask a delegate to go for a negotiation, and this delegate doesn’t have the right to decide. Therefore, you won’t get an answer immediately. Anyway, no matter if you discuss with the company owner or with a delegate, you have to keep in mind that certain persons simply don’t accept humor as part of a negotiation.

Plan your agenda

This might sound odd, but your offer will have a serious impact on the negotiation process. There are cases when experienced negotiators make powerful opening offers, but this is not always an efficient approach, since it might insult your opponent. Hence, you have to understand that the main purpose of a negotiation is to reach an agreement, and this won’t happen if you upset your counterpart. Talk about aspects like availability and delivery in order to be sure that nothing will go wrong.

Sometimes, negotiations concentrate only on the outcome, so there is no need for you to discuss the aforementioned problems. When it comes to budget limitations, it is recommended to examine the nonverbal gestures of your opponent. Of course, your purpose is to make a deal, but you can’t agree to an offer that is totally useless to you. Additionally, note that after you make the opening offer, you need to allow the other party to come up with his/her counteroffer.


A successful negotiator takes advantage of their strong points. In case your business is the only one that can provide the product or service your client is interested in, then you have leverage. The present economic situation is a key element in a negotiation, and the same applies to supply and demand. Make the most of your negotiation skills if you want to accomplish your mission. If you see that your opponent is a friendly person, you should use your humor to make the atmosphere to be less tense. Still, note that you’re a professional and you shouldn’t exaggerate.


If you want your counterpart to accept your offer, it has to include various details, like product clarifications, warranty, financial payment, and other aspects like these. If your offer is declined, you can reduce the price, but also the amount of products you’re providing. You must negotiate every problem that doesn’t please you, and write down all essential aspects.

Think of a plan B

Looks and charms are not enough to close business deals. Sometimes you have to prove yourself in front of your negotiator. If your first strategy doesn’t seem to work, always have a plan B. Prior to entering a negotiation make sure you know your other party like the palm of our hand. You can’t understand your counterpart unless you know their past. Anticipate moves and don’t think of backing down, even if it seems they’re letting the guard down. Business people can be really sneaky, especially when high stakes are in play, so don’t forget to watch your back. Counterparts may allow you to be funny and turn a whole meeting into a charade, but their goal is probably to make you crack. Sometimes, people hide behind humor because they want to hide anxiety and fear.

Be A Winner

You need to spot the major objectives of each side. For example, your priority can be product quality, whereas your opponent might see price as his/her main concern. Once you’re aware of the principal objectives of everyone, you will know how to present your offer without compromising too much.

No matter what happens during a negotiation, you have to behave professionally. You can add humor into a discussion, but you have to make sure that your opponent isn’t offended. On the other hand, in case they seem to be very formal, you might want to leave humor aside. As far as business is concerned and money is involved, people don’t have time to play games. Test the waters first, and try to keep your funny side to yourself when negotiating.

Photo Credit: Flickr/bertknot

About the Author

Davis Miller is an experienced writer with interest in small business, technology, and gadgets. He has written several high quality articles at many websites. He spends his free time in reading books and watching movies.