Sneaky Psychological Tactics to Watch for in a Divorce Negotiation

For many North Carolina residents, a divorce negotiation represents the most important deal that they will ever sign. It has the power to dramatically affect their financial well-being for years after the divorce – potentially for the rest of their lives. Unlike the average CEO or insurance adjuster, the average spouse does not have much experience with negotiations.

This makes them incredibly vulnerable to all kinds of sneaky, underhanded tricks during this process. Many of these tricks rely on psychology, and spouses must be aware of these strategies before they enter negotiations. While some of these strategies are highly unethical, others may prove useful for spouses who want to pursue their negotiations in an aggressive manner.

The “Dark Side of Psychology” Explained

Among professional negotiators, there is much discussion about the so-called “dark side” of psychology. This concept is simple: Instead of using psychological knowledge for ethical pursuits, it is possible to use this scientific field to manipulate others. This has obvious applications in negotiations, as many have already learned.

Many scientific papers have described a “dark triad” of communication skills:

  • Psychopathy
  • Machiavellianism
  • Narcissism

These papers conclude that people who exhibit these “dark skills” often achieve better results when negotiating face-to-face with others. Not only that, but studies have determined that people who negotiate from a position of power are often corrupted by their position. These people are more likely to deceive others while demanding more and conceding less.

Various studies have also concluded that most people are very poor lie detectors. This means that most deception and manipulation in negotiations go completely unnoticed. Not only that, but deceptive individuals may feel encouraged to engage in this behavior again and again – knowing that they will never be caught. This may also lead to increasing levels of deception, with negotiations starting small but quickly weaving more elaborate lies.

Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology is a very old trick, and one that many of us first encountered during childhood. It can be effective in a divorce, as it allows spouses to misdirect and conceal their true intentions. For example, a spouse who desperately wants to keep hold of their family home might express a total disinterest in this property. They might take things further, implying that the home has some kind of problem that will be expensive to fix. When a spouse sees that their counterpart seems desperate to avoid taking on a specific asset, they might assume that there is something wrong with it. This might make them less likely to accept the property – playing directly into the hands of the other spouse.

Stalling After Making Concessions

Another basic negotiation tactic is stalling. This can be carried out in a number of different ways, although it almost always leads to frustration for the other spouse. A spouse might agree to engage in a negotiation while fully intending to waste their ex’s time and money. They might also stall directly after making concessions, giving their spouse false hope and then crushing it immediately. These tactics are not always motivated by bitterness and spite, however. In certain situations, there may be a financial incentive to stall for as long as possible.

Information Elasticity

Almost all divorce negotiations depend heavily on the availability of information. Without access to accurate information, a spouse can never negotiate from a position of authority and power. One spouse might try to take advantage of their access to more accurate data. The most obvious strategy is to present this information in a very elastic manner. While information elasticity is not the same as an outright lie, it is a clear type of misrepresentation. For example, a spouse might provide a very wide price range for the valuation of a particular asset – even though they know that the price range is much narrower. This gives them more leeway during negotiations while increasing confusion for their ex.

Where Can I Find an Experienced Divorce Attorney in North Carolina?

If you have been searching for a divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses in the Tar Heel State. We know that negotiations can be intimidating for many spouses, but this process can be incredibly productive with the right approach. We have considerable experience with collaborative divorce, and we can help you counter various strategies while using our own tactics to pursue positive results. Book your consultation today to get started with effective negotiation strategies.