How to Avoid Absorbing the Other Side’s Problems

Negotiation is a vital skill for professionals in today’s business environment. If you are looking to build your skills and become a more valuable asset to your organization, you will need to learn how to succeed at the bargaining table. While preparing for your negotiation is certainly essential for success, it’s just as important to know what mistakes to avoid. To help you become a more effective negotiator, you must not get distracted by hard bargaining tactics and the other side’s problems. Rather, you want to remain detached from your counterpart, yet fully engaged in the negotiation. 

Don’t Fall for the Tricks

It’s not always fair but sometimes people employ hardball tactics to try and take advantage of naive and inexperienced negotiators. They may try the “I can’t authorize that” tactic to delay a response or they may try the ‘I’m sorry I wish I could do more but this is all I can afford’ tactic to keep prices down. Furthermore, they may even try to inundate you with all of their problems to try and earn your sympathy so you will back down and concede. All of these tactics are designed to throw you off your game. Never allow yourself to get too emotional with your counterpart. Remember that their problems are not your problems and that you are simply there to do business with them. 

Don’t Negotiate Against Yourself

It’s certainly important to listen to the other side’s needs and hear what they have to say. In fact, in addition to representing your own interests, you also want to be open to the other side’s point of view. That said, you do not want to get so absorbed in their problems that you forget about your own agenda. You want to remember that negotiation involves persuasion, and it’s all about convincing the other side to see your point of view. If you get too involved in the other side’s problems, you could end up negotiating against yourself. 

Stay Focused on Your Goals

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in a negotiation that you forget what you came to achieve. Make a list of your goals beforehand and be sure to stick to those throughout the negotiation. Have a list of concessions prepared in advance, so you don’t end up giving up something out of pity for the other side. Also, know your BATNA and be willing to walk away if the agreement isn’t viable. Despite the hardships of your counterpart, remember to stay focused on what you came to achieve. You can be cordial and respectful while still keeping your eye on the prize.