Negotiate Like the Pros – Eleven Common Mistakes Inexperienced Negotiators Make

Red flags. Warning signs. Flashing lights. Shrieking Alarms. Any time you are negotiating and you realize you’re making one of the following mistakes STOP … take a deep breath … and collect your thoughts. You may be on the slippery slope to a really poor agreement.

Mistake #1

Wanting Something Too Much-If you give the impression that your life depends on getting that job, or car, or house, or business deal, you are in trouble. Once your counterpart gets a hint of your desperation, you’re dead. Remember “the person who cares least about the outcome always gets the best deal.”

Mistake #2

Believing Your Counterpart Has All The Power – This is rarely, if ever, true. Remember, all parties want something, or they wouldn’t be at the bargaining table. Ask yourself, “Why are they negotiating with me?”

Mistake #3

Failing To Recognize Your Own Strengths-Always try to determine your negotiating strength before you sit down at the bargaining table. The key to assessing your strengths and weaknesses is to know where you stand. Information of this kind is the true power in any negotiation.

Mistake #4

Getting Hung Up On One Issue-This is called fixed-mind negotiating. When our counterpart uses this approach it’s usually the old “red-herring”. When we fall into this pattern it is usually a “pet-peeve”. In any event, virtually no negotiation involves one and only one issue. If you think yours does … you are making a big mistake.

Mistake #5

Failing to See More Than One Option-Seldom do negotiations break down to only one option. There are almost always several choices of action. Creativity is the key to avoiding the “one-option” mistake.

Mistake #6

Adopting A Win-Lose Mentality-Mutual benefit is the name of the game when the Pros negotiate. If both parties are not happy, then performance becomes the problem. Anyone can shake hands on a deal. Performance only follows if benefit is derived. Otherwise, “unilateral renegotiation” is the result. Not Good!

Mistake #7

Too Much Grinding-Negotiation is a skill and an art. Understanding and using tactics is relatively simple. The real distinction between the Pro and the amateur is the judgment call to end the give-and-take and proceed to performance … that is the art.

Mistake #8

Short Term Thinking-Some negotiators go for immediate payoffs, rather than seeking a long-term relationship. Long-term doesn’t necessarily mean over a lifetime. It can show up later in the same negotiation session. Be careful about grinding someone down on one point. They will get you back on another issue.

Mistake #9

Accepting Opinions, Feelings and Statements As Facts-“Our client would never agree to a proposal such as this” … “We don’t feel we can pay more than $1,000 for your product” … “Our budget doesn’t provide for an additional installation fee”. An opinion, a feeling, a statement … None are facts. Don’t be fooled.

Mistake #10

Accepting Firm Positions-“This is our final offer.” Everyone who has any level of experience has said this … and then made another offer. Don’t buy it!

Mistake #11

Believing That Having More Authority Gives You More Negotiating Power-It is quite convenient to be able to say “I’d love to be able to work with you on these figures, Mr. Buyer. But all our prices are determined at our headquarters in Boise, Idaho. I’m afraid nothing short of a coup is going to change them.”

Everyone makes mistakes. The value of becoming a student of the art of negotiation is that most of us can reduce the frequency of our mistakes and increase the frequency of optimum returns. With a little diligence and practice anyone who is committed can Negotiate Like The Pros.

John Patrick Dolan, Attorney at Law, Certified Specialist Criminal Law, CSP, CPAE is a recognized expert in the field of negotiation. He travels throughout the world presenting lively keynote speeches and in-depth training programs for business and legal professionals. Call 760-775-3739 for more information.

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