Most professionals will spend some time negotiating whether it’s with customers, suppliers, investors, or even a supervisor. However, no matter how much experience they have with negotiating there has certainly been a time or two when they put their foot in their mouth. The moment you get into trouble in negotiations is when you let the wrong words slip out. Whether you are new to negotiation or just looking to improve your skills, let’s examine a few things you should never say during negotiations.
- The word “between.” It can be easy to throw this word out in casual conversation with a customer. You might catch yourself saying something like “I can do that for between $10,000 and $15,000” or “I would like that report sometime between May 1 and May 15.” The fact is when you throw out a range, the person you are negotiating with will quickly zero in on the cheaper price and the later deadline. You conceded without even realizing it.
- “I think we are close to reaching a deal.” There is no doubt that negotiating can be an exhausting process and everyone reaches the point in which they are just ready to sign the deal and move on. The problem with saying this is that you are indicating to the other party that you are ready to settle and a skilled negotiator will use that to their advantage. They are likely to make more concessions because they can sense you are ready to close the deal. Always try to get your counterpart to be the one who is eager to finalize the negotiation.
- “I have the final say.” This might seem like a great way to sound assertive and show your strength but these words can actually backfire. You do not want your counterparts to know that you are the final decision maker even if you really are. There are times when you might need to step back and take a little bit of time to look over the deal and really think about it. By telling the buyer that you need to run this by another stakeholder, you are buying yourself more time to make an informed decision.
- “We can talk about the details later.” You would never buy a home without having it thoroughly inspected so why sign a deal before getting all the details? You should never agree to any kind of price or contract without completely understanding the terms.
- “Sorry.” Negotiating can be awkward and uncomfortable and it only seems natural to want to smooth things over in a difficult conversation. However, apologizing only makes you appear weak and insecure. Your counterpart might assume that you will be willing to back down and this can be a costly mistake.
- “Try.” When it comes to negotiation it is all about assertion and the word “try” is just too passive. It is way too easy for someone to say “We can try to get that done” and come back just to say “We tried and just couldn’t do it.” Instead, use more assertive language such as “I need you to do this.” Let your counterpart know that you are not asking for something but you are expecting
Skilled negotiators know exactly what to say at the right time. They also know how to play on the mistakes of their counterpart. Saying the wrong thing can cause you to lose a deal and this can be a costly mistake. Be prepared for your next negotiation by avoiding these detrimental phrases.