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5 Common Mistakes In Business Negotiation

Business NegotiationAs business people we spend so little time studying negotiating. Yet we have to negotiate every day both in life and in business. For example, when you buy a house you don’t just accept the price the house is listed for (unless you’re in a highly competitive market and really want that particular house). Maybe you’re flying across the country from New York to Los Angeles and when you walk up to the check in counter you negotiate with the airline agent for a better seat, perhaps even a move up to first class so you can be more comfortable and get some more work done. Or what about something as simple as going to dinner? You negotiate with your dinner partners as to what restaurant to meet at. Everything is about negotiation.


Here are 5 common mistakes business people make regarding negotiations:

1) Being Too Aggressive: If you walk into a meeting room with a posture or body language of being overly aggressive, this will immediately set the tone for potential confrontation. Negotiation is not about confrontation. It’s about all sides getting what they want. Sometimes in negotiations, we can forget where we are, then sound like a sales pitch and talk too much.

2) Listen: This is the most important thing you can do when negotiating. Listen more. Talk less. When you’re listening, when you’re hearing what others are saying – not just the words but really listening – you can get a clue as to where the negotiations are going.

3) Understand What The Other Person (Or People) Wants: Ask yourself questions such as: What position are they coming from? What do they need in this negotiation in order to come to an agreement? If you can understand what they need, then it’s easier to negotiate. If you’re so far apart and you don’t understand each other, this creates a potentially serious problem. It creates tension. It creates an impossible situation that may not be overcome.

4)      Everybody needs to win: Understand where the other side stands. Understand what they need. Present information that shows them how you can give them what they need. If you do, everybody wins. If not and someone walks away from the negotiation not feeling like they got what they wanted  – and in negotiations all parties need to give something up to get what they, overall, want – there are going to be problems. Everybody needs to win. Negotiation is not a battle. It’s not a contest. It’s not a sporting event where somebody wins and somebody loses. Everybody has to win.

5)      Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself: Sometimes business people do just that – they get ahead of themselves during the negotiation process. For example, sometimes people walk into the negotiation and immediately lay down demands. Or they say: This is what it is going to cost. Or: This is what I want you to do. Be patient. Sit back. Take in the conversation on all sides. Make a little small talk. Connect with everyone at the meeting. Let it unfold as you would want it to unfold but don’t get ahead of yourself and don’t hurry the process along. There is no hurry. Keep in mind you may not get another chance. That’s why the meeting needs to create a win-win for all sides. If negotiations break down, as sometimes they do, you may not get another chance or it will be much more difficult when negotiations resume. The key is to be patient.

Remember, everyone at the meeting is just like you. Everyone has wants, needs and issues to resolve through the negotiation process. Everyone wants to be in a winning position once the negotiations are completed – and they understand that to do so they may have to give up something.

If you have someone on the other side of the table who’s interested in negotiating with you there is no reason why you can’t work it out.

Remember: we negotiate every single day in business – and in life.


What has been your experience with business negotiations? What other business tips can you share?

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