10 Words and Phrases to Avoid Using During Negotiations

10 Words and Phrases to Avoid Using During Negotiations

Learning the art of negotiation is tricky and it can be challenging at times because if you say one wrong thing it can sabotage the entire negotiation.  Great negotiators know how important it is to choose your words carefully because one wrong move can leave you dead in the water. Don’t jeopardize your chances of getting what you want or lose you buyer by saying the wrong thing.  Here are 10 words and phrases you should never say in a negotiation.

“I’ll be honest.”

Many people choose this phrase because they think it appears as though they as passing along some type of confidential information.  In reality, it sounds as though everything you have said up to that point has been a lie. Your best bet is to simply make your statement without the preface.  Your information should be accurate anyway, so there is no reason to lead with this phrase.

“You won’t find a better product on the market.”

All too often sales reps lead with this type of statement but it’s difficult for customers to take this claim seriously because the reality is that there are other products out there that are just as good as yours. You will instantly lose credibility if you make this claim during a negotiation.  Instead, focus on the unique strengths of your product and what sets it apart from others.

“I’m sorry.”

These are perhaps the two biggest danger words in a negotiation because nothing signals weakness as much as saying you’re sorry.  Negotiators often apologize for things that are beyond their control but you risk looking someone who will easily back down the moment you utter these words.

“The least I’d be willing to take is…”

Negotiations are a lot like a game of poker and you never reveal your hand right away.  If you mention these words there’s a good chance that you will only be offered that amount.  You gave up your opportunity to gain more.

“I will give you X but only if you sign by this date.”

It may seem like you are gaining leverage with time-pressure but you are actually putting an unnecessary burden on the buyer.  No one should feel pressured into buying something and even if they agree you have probably just cut all future ties with that client.

“I need this deal.”

It might seem like a good way to convince buyers to purchase your product or even bosses to increase your salary, but the reality is your counterpart isn’t concerned with your needs; they are focused on their own.   Mentioning how much you need the deal makes you come across as desperate and self-seeking rather than someone who truly cares about the other party.


Even if you can’t agree to the deal, a staunch “no” makes it difficult to get the conversation back on track and the other party will feel like they can’t make any future requests.  Instead, use softer language by saying something like “I understand what you are saying, but unfortunately that will not be possible.” You can also use this as an opportunity to make some concessions to show that you are willing to give a little to get a little.

“I don’t usually do this, but…”

We can all expect a good deal from a long-time friend or family member, but the average buyer will see right through this phrase.  It makes you appear a bit dishonest because you come across like you are breaking some rule. Furthermore, the buyer doesn’t want to feel like they owe you in some way.  Your job is to make them feel like you have found a solution for them. If you really are offering some unusual deal just be straight up about by saying something like, “Our normal contract is for 60 days but we can reduce it to 30 since you are a new client.”

“I want”

These words can hinder salary negotiations right from the start and make you look greedy.  Instead of coming right out with a list of things you want, show your boss what you bring to the table and how your skills benefit the company.  You have to prove your worth…not ask for it.

“That’s not fair.”

Aside from sounding childish, this statement makes you sound like you don’t understand how business works.  Even if you don’t agree with what they are proposing, it’s much better to come back with a different proposal as opposed to saying “that’s not fair.”