How to Avoid 5 Negotiation Mistakes

The first rule in successful negotiations is rarely discussed. To negotiate from a position of strength, you must look out for number one…YOU. Whether you run a business, a team or a household, you must consider your needs and well-being first before you can influence at a high level. No, you’re not being too selfish.

This is a topic I recently spoke about with hundreds of professional women who are leaders and influencers at the Women Who Lead Summit in beautiful Puerto Rico.

Stop limiting yourself in negotiating by avoiding these five mistakes:

  1. Fear of the word, “No.”  If you aren’t hearing the word “No” occasionally, then you aren’t asking for enough. Additionally, you must be willing to walk away from any deal that doesn’t serve your best interests. Know your limits and be willing to say “No” if the arrangement isn’t worth it or doesn’t feel right. If a potential deal ties up needed resources, produces low returns or puts unnecessary stress on your business or team, it may be time to say “No.”
  2. Selling not solving. Before you begin telling and selling others on the benefits of working with you, see if there is a “fit” first. Find out problems others want to solve. Use open-ended questions to discover each parties’ interests. Questions identify areas to address and to avoid. Also a first answer may not describe the full issue. When in doubt, ask more questions. It’s your job to explore and determine real needs and interests.
  3. Treating all stakeholders the same.  Different people think, communicate and are motivated differently. You can’t anticipate all the reasons people believe or act as they do. Their needs, wants and desires often differ from yours. (Reflect on your personal relationships if you need proof.) Ask people what they want or need and ask about their reasons why. Get ready for their surprising and unexpected answers.
  4. Afraid of looking stupid. Stop trying to be the guru or expert. Instead, stay curious. The more the other side talks the better your deal can be.  Also, it’s okay to say, “I’m not sure yet. I have some ideas but want to hear your thoughts first.” You are far more likely to gain their respect by not assuming but listening to their responses to your questions. Ask, ask, ask.
  5. Not holding something back as a barter chip. Resist the urge to give away everything you have available. Watch for the “nibble” where the other party asks for a little something extra at the end of a conversation. Identify possible options to barter if needed. If you don’t use a concession, you have a bonus. If you do, it is not unexpected or a hardship. Once a deal is made, STOP and THANK the other party. People are often so excited about making a deal that they offer their barter chip “just because.” Don’t! There’s no need and you may need it later.

Master negotiators are honest, ask thoughtful questions, listen to the answers and don’t depend on any deal to make or break their success. Remember, consider your needs too! Now, go negotiate!

Journey On!