Top 5 Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Honest Mistake in Scrabble Letters – Top 5 Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Being a good negotiator is essential in the corporate world. There are countless deals to be made, partnerships to be formed, and indeed salaries to be bargained for – all of which require a tête-à-tête with another individual who will be as equally determined as you to get the best deal.

Negotiation is a skill, which some people seem to be born with. However, not everyone is a natural negotiator – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to do it, and how to do it well.

Last time, we brought you ‘10 Top Tips to Be a Better Negotiator’, and it’s worth reiterating what these were:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Take the initiative
  3. Drop an anchor
  4. Iteration
  5. Take your time
  6. Listen
  7. Be prepared to walk away
  8. Aim high
  9. Emphasise the win-win scenario
  10. Show passion

These are all tips for how to do better at the negotiation process, and we encourage that you head over to the blog and read the explanation for each one.

However, sometimes we can learn just as much about how to do something well by considering what the pitfalls are to avoid.

And so, as a follow up to our Top 10 Tips, we’re bringing you the Top 5 Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs.

Top 5 Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

1.      Not Building a Relationship First

Meeting your opponent for the very first time at the negotiation table is a risky venture. If you don’t know anything about the person that you’re trying to negotiate with, then you’re essentially going into battle unarmed.

The purpose of many negotiations is to thrash out the terms of a longer, more meaningful business relationship that will benefit both parties. How that relationship is defined, however, will depend upon how well you perform in negotiation.

If you get to know your counter-party first, through real conversations where nothing is directly at stake, then you can start to learn about the human being that you will be discussing your future with.

Importantly, you will be trying to learn what they value in life, what motivates them, and of course what annoys them – all which is pure gold when the time comes to get down to business. Indeed, if you can build a rapport with the person, then you will be able to leverage this good faith to your advantage around the table.

If you don’t make the effort to put this extra work in at the start, you will have no such advantage, and if your opponent is a more experienced negotiator than you are, there’s more chance of any weaknesses that you have being exploited.

2.      Lacking Confidence and Showing Fear

Let me make one thing absolutely clear right now: everything is negotiable.

Many negotiators will affect an extremely bold or brazen personality when it comes to negotiating a deal. This can be disarming, and start to make you think that you’ve lost all power even before you’ve opened your mouth. A good negotiator will be able to smell this fear, and if you let it overcome you, there’s every chance you’ll be signing all sorts of bad deals just to get yourself out of that uncomfortable situation as fast as possible.

However, I say again – everything is negotiable. If you’ve done your homework (see our Top 10 Tips for Being a Better Negotiator), then you will be able to determine just how much of your opponent’s aplomb is real, and how much is simply an act of bombast designed to put you on the back foot.

Be confident, draw on the research that you’ve already done prior to the meeting, and wait for your turn to speak. You will actually be surprised at how well you will be able to disarm your seemingly brazen opponent if you show him/her that you won’t be intimidated. If their only tactic is to try and essentially bully you into backing down and you won’t, you will soon see a flustered individual who will all of a sudden be very willing to meet your demands in an effort to save some of the face that will feel they have lost.

3.      Talking Too Much

There is a risk of having too much confidence, however – talking too much.

Being confident is one thing, but there is such a thing as quiet confidence, and this is what will see you right in the negotiation room. Don’t underestimate the sheer power of silence. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but you must learn to use it to your advantage. If you can hold a silence longer than your opponent, then you will force them to show their hand first, giving you the information you need to start the bargaining process proper.

4.      Mistaking Friendliness for Weakness

If slightly more experienced, your opponent may not go for the overtly-confident approach, but instead resort to charm, friendliness and amicability. Indeed, this is a far more effective tactic, and can really start to confuse the issue if you can’t see through it.

So be warned – if your counter-party starts acting like he/she’s your best friend, then be prepared for some hard bargaining ahead. When someone manages to work their charms on you, it can be very difficult to try and assert your authority and tell them no, that’s not good enough. There’s a lot of psychology involved in negotiations, and if you find yourself in a position where your opponent is trying to make you feel guilty about asking for something, you must acknowledge that they are a sly dog, and darn well ask for it anyway.

Your counter-party is not your best friend, and there is at much at stake for your business as there is for theirs. Do not mistake friendliness for weakness, for in fact it is more akin to cunning and strength when it comes to negotiations.

5.      Not Sticking to Your Limits

This is the big one. No matter how much you want a deal to work, there is a limit to how much you can give away in order to attain it, and you must stick to it.

Those who don’t set and stick to limits in negotiations are not protecting themselves or the companies they represent. Before you enter the negotiation arena, you need to know all the figures off by heart, and have an absolute upper limit that you will not break no matter how high emotions run nor indeed how much greed may try and get the better of you.

Stick to your guns, and, as we’ve said in our Top 10 Tips, be prepared to walk away if necessary, for no deal at all is far better than a bad deal that may put you and your firm under a lot of financial pressure for the duration of the contract.

So there we go – you’ve now had 10 tips for becoming a better negotiator, and the top 5 negotiation mistakes you must avoid at all costs.

Refining the art of negotiation is an ongoing process, and there is always more that you can do to ensure that you have all the skills needed to triumph. Here at Cope Sales and Marketing we provide negotiation training for executives looking to refine their skills. We can also be hired to handle negotiations on your behalf.

Please take a look around our website – – to find our full list of services, and you can start a conversation with us today by heading over to our Contact Page. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Categories: Sales, Sales Negotiation