“Negotiator – Is There Hidden Power In The Inferiority Myth” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

Is there a hidden power in the inferiority myth? In its purest form, it’s nothing more than a belief or disbelief that people accept or reject. The illusion exists in its ability to manipulate the thoughts of others for good or bad. Therefore, you should assess whether myths are good or bad, by the way you and others view them. After all, they shape people’s perspectives and opinions.

You’re continuously negotiating in all of your environments. And, as a negotiator, you should use every asset that’s available to enhance your efforts. The inferiority myth is one tool you can use to do that.

The following are ways to use inferiority myths.

  • Embolden others to feel good about themselves (e.g., I don’t think you’re inferior to anyone.)

  • As a source of neutrality (e.g., I always found everyone in your group/area to be open, honest, and easy to deal with. And I know dealing with you will be the same way.)

  • Perpetrate a stereotype that reflects the negative thoughts others have of an individual or group and cast yourself on the opposite side of that paradigm – This says, I respect you. We’re looking at this from the same perspective. I’m on your side (This is the good cop in the good cop, bad cop, scenario.)

  • Use to cast others as being inferior to you – Note: it takes a particular mindset to accept this pronouncement. Therefore, you should be mindful of whom you attempt to project this. Some people will perceive such sentiments as being derogatory. And this my insight them to become rigid, which may lead to confrontation or hostilities.

  • Use to cast yourself as being inferior to others – While most individuals seek to project strength, to appear in control, there are times when a demur posture can be beneficial. Casting yourself as being inferior can help that façade. Once again, be mindful of whom you project that image. While it will allow you to maintain a better position with some people, it can be to your detriment with others.

  • Use to cast your target’s group as being inferior to him (e.g., Why are you with them? You’re so much better than they are.) While this may work to separate individuals in a group from the group, it may backfire (i.e., He’s like my brother. And I’m just like him and proud of it!). So be cautious about with whom you attempt this.

  • Project yourself as a victim of perceived inferiority to the person you’re engaged with (e.g., Are you saying that I’m inferior to you? Why would you think that and why would you feel that way?) This can be the prelude to you feigning heightened aggression or agitation. You’d use this strategy with someone respectful of your authority who you want to restrain mentally. If you attempt to implement this with more strident individuals, you run the risk of encouraging them to become obstinate. So, be cautious. You don’t want to inflame anyone’s ire. That can lead to increased tensions.

As in every situation you encounter, you’re negotiating. Thus, as a negotiator, you’re always setting expectations. Some people will attempt to live up to them, while others will strive to live down to them. Hence, you must be sure you set the correct expectation based on the outcome you seek.

To set better expectations based on the inferiority myth, consider the source of power confronting you. If it’s potential trouble, you may suggest that the source’s ability is inferior. If that force is more amenable to follow your commands, indicate that everyone is on the right path (e.g., people that work together create more significant outcomes).

The point is, when employing the inferiority myth, make sure it serves the overall outcome you’re attempting to achieve. Anything less will put your efforts in jeopardy. That will cause unwanted anxiety and stress, which can add to a situation’s decline. Using myths correctly can be a valuable aid, but only if you use them properly. Once you do, you’ll be able to subdue challenges that, in the past, may have gotten out of hand… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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