The 7 Most Common Negotiating Mistakes
Want to win a deal? Learn from this expert.
While even the word “negotiation” can evoke fear, stress and anxiety for many, the intent of it is quite simple: to discuss and ultimately agree on a deal. Whether a multimillion-dollar contract is in the works or just plans to meet for lunch, life is rife with negotiations. And, the negotiation process is a lot like a chess game in which strategy reigns supreme—one thoughtfully considered move at a time. Make a careless, short-sighted move and suffer the consequences.
Even when faced with the most daunting of deals, regarding the act of negotiation as a game may alleviate your apprehension and give you the confidence to make power plays that will facilitate your desired result. Unlike strategy games such as chess, however, the most effective deals result in win-win situations for all parties, rather than win-lose. To maximize one’s bargaining prowess in business and in life, let’s review the seven most common mistakes made during negotiations:
1. Lacking confidence
Many people think they need to show a certain kind of confidence, even getting loud, bold or brazen, to successfully negotiate a deal. Others think that a lot of experience is required to be a good negotiator. Most of the time it merely takes tenacity and good old preparation to ensure you are aptly equipped to assert mutually desirable terms, anticipate objections, and discern what motivators or “hot buttons” will resonate with the other side.
Having confidence also means having heart, which is endearing to others whether or not you have years of negotiation experience. Your authenticity can also result in the opposition having a less defensive stance, making them more amenable to your stipulations. Projecting a notable level of confidence, and backing that up with solid, well-researched information, maximizes your chances of success.
2. Thinking something is non-negotiable
3. Not building relationships first
4. Not asking for what you want
5. Talking too much
6. Not documenting
The importance of getting the final agreement in writing cannot be stressed enough. Even better, get it in writing and then consult with a contracts attorney to review documents that require a signature. The purpose of a written agreement or contract is to provide protection for both sides and alleviate any ambiguity of terms. Myriad problems can occur when the terms of a deal are not put in writing, because what you “think” the other party said and what they “think” you said can be two different things. Documenting the agreement eliminates such perception problems and protects the interests of all parties involved.
7. Signing without reading
Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s imperative you read what you are signing—no matter how large the packet it is. Modern life is fast-paced, and people are usually engaged in multiple things at once, causing some to sign legal documents without reading them first. The result can be disastrous. Make sure you read any agreement or contract in full, to ensure you are not confirming terms you will regret and cannot undo, which can cause copious problems for your future.
Whether you are a seasoned negotiator or someone who avoids dealing with people, you will vastly improve your results and be motivated to “get in the game” by knowing how to avoid these negotiation pitfalls. When seeking to gain advantages in your business or personal life, the art of “thinking like a negotiator” will profoundly impact your ability to actualize your desired outcome.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, ACS, ALB, AS CEO of Dynamic Vision International, is a veteran negotiation and contracts expert and author of Think Like a Negotiator. She is a keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the art of negotiation, and is a trainer of negotiation. Reach her at www.ThinkLikeANegotiator.com.