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5 Biggest Negotiation Mistakes

The definition of negotiate is to reach an agreement or compromise through discussions.   Negotiating can be applied to nearly every aspect of our life.  Many times we don’t even know we’re doing it.  Yet there are some very basic principles that if done incorrectly, will yield undesirable results.  Don’t make the mistake of falling into these bad habits.

1.  Being Unprepared.  If you are going into a scheduled negotiation, you have to be prepared.  Otherwise you will fluster easily, can lose sight of your goal and become easily duped.   Take the time to write down what you want, why you want it and what you are willing to compromise.  And practice saying it out loud.  Even if it’s to your cat.  You’ll be much more comfortable on the day of.

2.  All or Nothing.  Having the attitude of ‘it’s my way or the highway’ will yield bad results.  Put yourself into the other person’s shoes.  You are both there to reach an agreement that is acceptable to you both.  A Win-Win. And sometimes that means compromise.  You should have it written down what you are willing to compromise.

3. Ultimatums.  Trying to tell the other person there’s only 2 options is a guaranteed road to failure.  There is always a 3rd option and that’s hitting the road, leaving nothing accomplished.  Have many options in your head, starting with the most desirable.  And listen to the other person.  Don’t shoot down the negotiations before they’ve really started.

4. Focusing on ‘What’ Instead of ‘Why’.  If all you see is the big fat salary raise your employee is asking for, you’ll be missing important information.  Ask questions.  Find out why they want it.  Maybe they are looking to buy a house or are expanding their family.  Or they’ve been at the company awhile and feel they deserve it.  Listening more will give you a leg up because you’ll have detailed information to discuss.

5. Losing Your Cool.  It can be hard to keep emotions out of the equation when you’re negotiating things like the sale of your home or a salary raise.  You feel passionate about it.  But nothing will lose you the upper hand in negotiating like visibly getting upset (especially if the other person is a skilled negotiator).  Try and think of the discussions as a business transaction and not a personal one.  Keep your head above the conversation.  If something angers you, stop and ask yourself why.  And give yourself a reminder to stay calm.  It will benefit you tremendously.

Of course, like with everything, practice makes perfect.  Even if it’s negotiating with your spouse over what movie to watch, you can quickly become very skilled at it.  And it can even be fun.

Posted in Tactics.


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  1. Justin Mazza says

    One other negotiating skill that I learned is to be willing to walk away from any deal. This keeps me from making irrational decisions.



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