Negotiation is more of an art form than a natural ability. It requires a great deal of practice over a period of time, which is why negotiating can be difficult for a rookie. You can easily make a mistake without even realizing it. You may accidentally reveal your bottom line, offend the other party, concede more than you should, or even get your numbers mixed up. The point is, that you are bound to mistakes when you first begin negotiating. Fortunately, through awareness, practice, and preparation, you can learn to avoid common mistakes in order to reach better deals. Here are a few of the most common mistakes rookie negotiators make and how you can avoid them to set yourself up for a better outcome.
Not Doing Your Homework
One of the most common mistakes rookie negotiators make is rushing into a negotiation without fully preparing for it. You may think you are prepared because you know what you want to get out of the deal, but that is far from adequate preparation. Successful negotiators know that you must analyze more than just your own side. You also need to do your homework and find out as much as you can about the other party. What are their expectations and goals? What is motivating them? What pain points do they have? The more you know about your counterpart, the better you will be able to prepare a good strategy. Be sure you understand both your position and theirs, have a strategy in place and have a backup plan in case things don’t go your way.
Focusing on “Winning” Rather Than “Collaborating”
Many novice negotiators look at negotiation as having a winner and a loser. In an effort to avoid “losing” the negotiation they may even make unreasonable demands, threats, or other coercive tactics in order to get their way. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal approach to negotiations and it is far better to collaborate with your counterpart and seek a mutually beneficial solution. Smart negotiators know that reaching a win-win outcome rather than a win-lose outcome will lead to better working relationships in the long run.
Letting Your Emotions Get the Best of You
It’s easy to get frustrated when a discussion doesn’t go the way you had planned. You may even find yourself getting defensive and angry at times. However, you must never let your emotions get in the way of a successful negotiation. In fact, anger and frustration can lead to stalled discussions and it can ultimately kill deals so learn to keep your emotions in check, take breaks if needed, and remain calm and collected.
Rookie negotiators are often so focused on presenting their own ideas and trying to close the deal that they forget to listen. However, not listening not only sours your relationship with the other party, but it prevents you from gaining important information about the other party that could help you negotiate the best deal. In addition to sharing your own thoughts and pitching your side, remember to ask questions, listen to the responses, and find out what matters most to your counterpart.
Negotiating your first deal is not easy, but it is still important to learn to project confidence. You can do this by learning as much as you can about the subject, researching the other person’s side, and preparing adequately for the negotiation. If you walk in nervously, the other person will be able to read you like a book and they might take full advantage of your nerves to back you into a deal.
Giving In Under Pressure
At some point, we have all seen deals on TV or in stores that use pressure tactics like “while supplies last” or “offer expires this Friday.” This is a powerful technique designed to pressure you into making a decision on the spot. The same happens in negotiations. You need to learn to recognize these tactics so you can resist their influence and avoid caving under pressure.