Common Negotiation Mistakes You Should Avoid

NegotiationNegotiation is not a skill to take out once in a while when you have to make a deal. Negotiation is a way to get what you want out of life. You negotiate all day long; believe me it is true! You negotiate with your co-workers, your spouse or husband, your parents, or even with your kids. Negotiation seeks to move polarized parties into the realm of common interests. That’s not easy, is it? Even the best negotiators can make mistakes. To make your negotiation successful and lead to what you want, make sure you avoid these common negotiation mistakes:

Common Negotiation Mistakes You Should Avoid


Failing to Prepare

Preparation is the bedrock of negotiation success. To negotiate effectively, you need to engage in detailed planning. Ironically, one of the common mistakes negotiators commit is not doing their homework in advance. People who know what they want, what they are willing to settle for, and what the other side is all about, stand a better chance of negotiating a favorable deal for themselves.

For a negotiator, preparation means understanding one’s own position and interests, the position and interests of the other party or parties, the issues at stake, and the alternative solutions. Failing to prepare for all these may let you settle for things that you may not like or prefer at the end.


Failing to listen

Spending hours or days preparing your argument will naturally make you want to share your interests, lay out options, and so forth. But when you get into the room, focus on listening and asking questions as much as (if not more than) presenting your case.

Good negotiators are good listeners. So listen attentively during the negotiation meeting. Get the most information you can, and you will have a successful negotiation. One of the simple and effective techniques I always use during negotiation is counting to three before responding to a question, concern, or a comment so that thing can sink in. I always keep notes also. Avoid this negotiation mistake since it is dangerous.



Confidence is a good thing. It gives us the courage we need to tackle difficult and uncertain ventures – such as negotiations. Too much confidence, however, can set a person up for a fall. Overconfidence encourages us to overestimate our own strengths and underestimate those of our rivals. Overconfidence can blind-side you to dangers and opportunities.

Be assertive in your negotiation tactics but never overconfident. Be realistic and rational when you negotiate with other parties in order for you to reach a conclusion.


Unchecked Emotions

People tend to assume that unchecked emotions occur in divorce and other personal negotiations, but rarely in business. Not so. Business partnership dissolution is called business “divorces” for a very good reason: They involve tremendous anger and personal vitriol.

Bad things happen when anger takes control of a negotiation. The parties stop focusing on logic and rational self-interest. Inflicting damage on the other side becomes the goal, even when doing so causes damage to one’s own interests. To solve this critical issue, take pauses or breaks to cool off or enlist an objective moderator to help resolve the disagreement. Always control your temper and emotion if you want to be an effective negotiator.


So what do you think about these common negotiation mistakes? Would you like to add any further suggestions?


This post has been adapted from Harvard Business Essential Series: Negotiation.


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