10 Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid

Poor Negotiation Skills

Last time I shared with you my top 10 tips to running a successful negotiation.

As well as these 10 must-do tips, there are also things you must not do if you want your negotiation to be successful.

Remember, the best possible outcome of any negotiation is when a deal goes well for both parties.

There are some business people who are only happy when they think they have “beaten” the other part in a negotiation.

But this is a very short sighted view.

A negotiation which satisfies both parties can lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship.

So with a long-term future in mind, make sure you avoid the following 10 potential pitfalls when entering your next negotiation.


Mistake #1 – Poor Planning

Never go into a negotiation without being preparing.

You will need to prioritise your objectives, research the other party, plan your concessions, and anticipate their objections so you can respond.

One of the best ways to prepare is to visualise the end of the negotiation.

Once you can ‘see’ everyone happy with the outcome, imagine all the steps you took to reach that point.

Make a list of those steps and prepare for each.


Mistake #2 – Lack Confidence

Don’t be intimidated!

Negotiation is not a battle, but a conversation.

Negotiation is a discussion where you each state clearly what you want.

Where there are differences in what you both want, you discuss them.

Through that discussion you try to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

As long as you are clear about what you want, and have prepared your arguments, there is no need to fear the other party.

If you do feel nervous, be sure to practice some mindfulness exercises before the meeting.


Mistake #3 – Getting Straight Down to Business

Don’t launch straight into negotiations.

Remember, all parties in the negotiation are people.

This negotiation meeting is just a small part of your complex lives.

You will be a better negotiator when you understand the motivations of the other party.

So, start by building rapport so you feel a personal connection with the other person.

You also want the other party to know, like and trust you.

After some small talk about common interests, lead the conversation naturally into the discussion.


Mistake #4 – Thinking a Negotiation is ‘Winner Takes All’

The reality of any negotiation is that you will both walk away with some of your objectives met and some compromises made.

If you go into the meeting unwilling to concede anything, it is not negotiating, it’s steamrolling.

When the other party feels the outcome is too much in your favour, they will be unhappy and live with regret

At the same time, you must know your own limits.

Be prepared to walk away from the negotiation if reaching a deal means you would have to concede too much.


Mistake #5 – Forgetting about Big Picture

Make sure you keep in mind that this is only one meeting about one deal.

The bigger picture is the relationship you have with the other party.

When both parties feel a negotiation has been successful, the relationship can lead to bigger and better deals together in future.

Try to create an outcome that not only satisfies both parties now, but also paves the way to a stronger relationship going forward.


Mistake #6 – Being Aggressive

Never let things get emotionally heated.

If you feel aggressive or hostile, this won’t lead to a good result.

The discussion should be calm and measured.

If you feel the temperature of the discussion is getting too high, find a reason to take a short break.

Refill your coffee cup, visit the bathroom.

When you both return to the discussion, things will have calmed down.

Quickly review the meeting so far, being sure to highlight all points of agreement.

Then you can continue the discussion with a fresh perspective.


Mistake #7 – Focusing on YOU

Your interests will be top of mind, but the negotiations shouldn’t be all about you.

Don’t forget to acknowledge the needs of the other party and consider their perspective and objectives.

The need to be heard is one of the most powerful motivating forces in human nature.

When you show the other party you have heard them, you prove that their feelings, actions, and intentions are meaningful.

The more valued they feel, the more likely they will be to share in-depth insights you can use to drive the negotiation forward.


Mistake #8 – Shying away from Disagreement

Don’t be afraid to disagree.

Disagreement is where you find issues to work on together.

When you discuss the issues you will eventually reach a solution.

But state your disagreements in a soft and friendly way.

Always remember, if you have a disagreement it with what has been said, not with the person saying it.


Mistake #9 – Failing to Nail Down the Details

Once you’ve reached an agreement, nail down the details.

Decide what actions each party must take and what deliverables are needed, and then come up with clear deadlines.

Your record of each agreement point should be specific, measurable, and have a clear owner.


Mistake #10 – Not Getting It in Writing

Once you have nailed down the agreement details get them in writing.

It doesn’t have to be a great, formal document.

A follow-up email will often suffice.

Putting the agreement in writing will help ensure both parties are on the same page.

It also makes everyone aware of their commitments.


Avoid these 10 mistakes and you will be well on your way to mastering the essentials of negotiation.

As a helpful reminder, grab your copy of my handy Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid One-Pager below.

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Written by 

Co-Founder & CEO of Link Management Group. An Investor & Coach to Small Business Owners, for the past 30 years I have helped startup and early-stage businesses to enter new markets and achieve sustainable growth of both revenue and profits. I have experience across a diverse range of sectors including central government, information services, software, health insurance, pet products, couture fashion, entertainment and aviation.  How can I help your organisation accelerate growth and achieve its full potential? 

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