Why You Need to Leave Your Ego at the Door When Negotiating

A successful negotiation is all about the process of give and take between two parties. Although each party has their own goals, they both seek to find common ground that leads to a winning solution for everyone. While this sounds great in theory, the reality is that there are times when both parties leave the negotiating table frustrated, unhappy, and with a devastated relationship because they let their egos get in the way. Despite popular belief, successful negotiating is not about the bluff and bluster. Rather, the secret to successful negotiation is to take ego out of the equation. 


You Appear Arrogant

If you walk into a negotiation acting as though you are an expert on the subject being discussed, your counterpart will perceive this as arrogance. It’s no secret that no one enjoys dealing with someone who is arrogant, so this will put a damper on the relationship right from the start. Although we all have biases and opinions, be careful not to force these opinions on your counterpart. Instead, actively listen and seek to understand their perspectives. Be patient and look for a mutually acceptable solution rather than forcing your own agenda. The best negotiators are confident, but they also accept that they don’t have all the answers. It is far better to listen and consider other possibilities in order to gain more knowledge on the subject. When you leave your ego at the door, you become comfortable with the notion that there are other ways to solve a problem and you gain a better understanding of the situation. 


Egos Destroy Relationships

You certainly enter into a negotiation with the intent to gain something of value, but great negotiators don’t discount the relationship with their counterpart. After all, what good does it do you to get what you want if the other party refuses to ever work with you again in the future. Strategic negotiation is more than just “winning.” It’s also about maintaining and strengthening professional relationships for future negotiations. When you leave your ego at the door, you open yourself up to service. Rather than focusing solely on your own needs, you put the well-being of your counterpart at the forefront of your negotiation. Negotiators who consider the needs of the other party position themselves for effective negotiations in the long-term. 


You Want to Encourage Cooperation

Those who leave their egos at the door set up a climate of cooperation that can lead to a more successful outcome. If you are only concerned about yourself, it will lead to a miserable negotiation. It’s frustrating trying to work with someone who won’t listen to anyone else. Negotiators who leave their ego behind, come into the discussion with an open mind, focused on success, and often foster a culture of cooperation. You have the best chance for success when you and your counterpart work collaboratively toward a common goal. 


When you enter into a negotiation, you have to remember two things: your goals and the goals of the other party. The number one reason negotiations fail is because the negotiator doesn’t consider the needs of the other party and they keep negotiating to the point that the other party finally walks away. The key is to trade value for value rather than focusing on a specific want. Negotiation is a complex method of communication, but an open mind will make your negotiations more fruitful and successful.