Negotiation Hazards

What might work wonderfully in one negotiation situation will not always be appropriate in another. The instant someone feels cheated, misled or taken advantage of, your opportunity to negotiate with her/him is over. Negotiation hazards tend to occur when you are taking a particular strategy too far.

Many rookie negotiators have a tendency to push the envelope a little too far. Their ambition as beginners is understandable, but it will rarely result in a win–win situation. Negotiating rookies want to be the victors, like they are hunting prey. Even if the other party consents, they are likely not doing so without some serious repercussions. High-pressure tactics will most often be read as offensive, condescending, obnoxious and insulting. Then, trust is lost and ultimately the ability to negotiate is lost, too. You can always tell that you’re going too far if your prospects find something you say or do alarming, or if they seem uncomfortable in your presence. Always be sensitive to the mood and rapport of the meeting so you don’t find yourself in this situation in the first place.

Explaining Exactly What You Want

It is natural when you’re negotiating with a person you don’t know very well for her/him to regard you with some suspicion. In a negotiation setting, it will be the other party’s instinct to assume the worst about your motives. There could be a million legitimate reasons why we have to hold out on an offer, but instead of considering what any of those reasons might be, people are much more inclined to draw negative conclusions. For example, if you cannot agree to his terms, your negotiation partner may automatically “decide” that you’re greedy, demanding or unreasonable without even stopping to consider what other factors might be at work in your inability to agree to his terms. Because of these suspicious tendencies, it is imperative that you reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings in your negotiation efforts by clearly stating what you need. It would be horrible to lose out on a deal altogether just because someone misunderstood you and deduced that you were untrustworthy. Conversely, if you can give clear reasons why your stance is what it is, your negotiation counterpart has the opportunity to process this information and respond more favorably. In this way, you enhance understanding, open communication and trust.

Cultivating a Relationship of Trust

Try to think of the negotiation process as more of a discussion or an exchange of ideas than a competition or fight. One of the best ways to get your negotiations on the right track is to make sure you cultivate a relationship of trust right from the start. Even the initial small talk that takes place before the actual meeting starts will help your prospects feel comfortable with, and more trusting of, you. When your prospects trust you, they will be more willing to take the necessary risks to help both parties move in a direction that will most greatly benefit everyone involved. If prospects don’t trust you, on the other hand, all the evidence, reasoning, facts or figures in the world won’t get them to budge. Be sure you listen attentively and carefully to your prospects concerns. Respectfulness will go a long way toward a successful outcome. One of the advantages of face-to-face meetings is that your prospects will be able to see and experience your sincerity firsthand.