Pitfalls to Avoid in Business Negotiations: How to Steer Clear of Common Mistakes

Successful negotiations rely on strong negotiation tactics as well as an understanding of what your desired outcome looks like. As with any undertaking, success starts with a keen awareness of potential pitfalls and mistakes that could sabotage your ability to reach an agreement. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid in business negotiations and how to steer clear of them. 

1. Failing to Prepare

Successful negotiations begin with adequate preparation and planning. All too often, individuals rush into negotiations without doing their due diligence. Before you begin any conversation, you must understand not only your own goals and desired outcomes, but also those of your counterpart. You also need to establish a strong understanding of the person and the company you are negotiating with. Know their strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates them. Furthermore, you need to know your own bottom line and your walk away point. Once you have gathered all of this information, you should prepare a written analysis for yourself so you can develop a winning strategy. 

2. Focusing Only on Your Interests

Negotiators who only think about their own interests often approach negotiations with a win-lose mentality. They will both enter the ring but only one will come out victorious. Unfortunately, this self-centered way of thinking damages relationships and causes individuals to miss out on valuable opportunities. If you don’t recognize and understand the needs of your counterpart, you will be blind to solutions that could lead to better outcomes for both sides. Remember that the goal of  every business relationship should be a win-win outcome rather than a win-lose. 

3. Letting Emotions Get the Best of You

This is one of the most common pitfalls for novice negotiators. It is very easy to feel frustrated and angry when things aren’t going your way in a negotiation. However, the worst thing you can do is let your emotions take over. Studies have shown that negotiations that start with anger or confrontation consistently lead to poorer outcomes. Be sure to reign in your emotions and know when it’s time to take a break before returning to negotiations, 

4. Succumbing to Pressure Tactics

Anyone who has ever bought something impulsively is familiar with the pressure tactics employed by businesses when they say “only two left” or “sale expires at midnight.” Don’t fall prey to these pressure tactics. Learn to recognize when your counterpart is applying pressure intended to influence your decision and plan ahead for how you will react. 

5. Rushing to Get Things Done

Accepting a deal too quickly just to get things done can lead to regret. Sometimes no agreement or a future agreement is the best alternative. You must always consider the lasting impact of an immediate decision and don’t allow yourself to make decisions out of desperation. Remember that you have a walk away point for a reason.