Negotiating is an art form, one that requires skills honed over time, but there are some mistakes you can avoid no matter how new you are to the game. Here are some common mistakes made by rookies and experienced negotiators alike.
They Don’t Listen
Negotiators can be so focused on presenting their piece and closing the deal they forget to listen. This alienates the person you’re trying to persuade. Show up prepared and know your stuff, but make sure you know your audience. Ask questions to find out where they’re coming from and what matters to them. No matter how great your pitch, if your listener feels un-listened to, it will likely fall on deaf ears.
They Talk Too Much
Have you ever been in a situation where someone communicated successfully, then kept talking so long you forgot what the original point was? Don’t make this mistake. Clearly and concisely present your case. Allow the other party a chance to ask questions. Answer them as clearly as possible, but be concise.
They Don’t Define What They Want
Before entering a negotiation, define exactly what you want from the other party. Decide your best hoped-for outcome and the minimum terms that will be acceptable to you. Use these as fixed points to ensure you won’t get derailed by emotion or manipulation.
Plan to get what you want, but don’t expect it. Have alternative solutions prepared ahead of time. Often, you’ll find you get what you want or you’re able to find a similar option that’s agreeable to both sides.
They Lack Confidence
Projecting confidence means putting in preparation time and being able to demonstrate you’re the expert in your field – no matter what the question. It doesn’t mean being loud or pushy. Know everything you can possibly know about your subject, then carry yourself accordingly.
They Don’t Build Relationships
A good negotiator is always building relationships. If you are meeting someone for the first time, try not to start at the negotiating table. Meet for dinner the night before to establish rapport and get to know the person you’re going to be dealing with.
Build time into every day to strengthen personal connections with others. Let people know you aren’t just in it for what you can get from them, but you care about them personally. Ask questions about things that interest them and really listen. Return to those topics every time you see them to build a deeper connection.
Be prepared, be credible, and let the other side know you care about what matters to them. Negotiation is an art that takes practice, so keep these blunders in mind before you start the process.