Five Common Negotiation Mistakes You Must Avoid

Five Common Negotiation Mistakes You Must Avoid

Five Common Negotiation Mistakes You Must Avoid

Mastering the Art of Negotiation: Avoiding Common Pitfalls for Success

Negotiation is an essential life skill in our personal, social, and business lives. Whether negotiating the terms and conditions for a purchase order with a supplier, a promotional program with a customer or discussing curfew with your teenager – the art, science, and sport of negotiation is an essential skill that can impact outcomes.

Many people need help understanding and dealing with the common pitfalls hindering their negotiation success.  In this article, I’ll explore the five mistakes people make when negotiating and how to avoid them.

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Mistake #1: Failing to Prepare and Plan Thoroughly

It doesn’t matter whether people are involved in a complex or what people perceive as a straightforward negotiation.  One of the most significant errors in negotiation is that people need to do much better with preparation and planning.

It’s tempting to dive into a negotiation headfirst, but successful negotiators invest time in understanding their objectives, knowing their counterpart’s interests, researching, and anticipating potential objections.  Preparation and planning are the foundation upon which successful negotiations are built.  Without it, you’re navigating uncharted waters blindfolded, and you won’t likely do well.

Mistake #2: Neglecting Active Listening and Not Asking Good Questions

Effective communication is at the heart of negotiation; a crucial component is active listening.  People often get so caught up trying to make their point that they forget to listen to the other side.  When you truly listen, you gain insights into the other person’s needs and motivations.  This information is your most valuable asset in reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

This mistake is particularly true for most salespeople and sales management.  Stop talking, listen, and ask effective blueprinting questions.  In our negotiation skills training programs and coaching sessions, we provide our clients with proven best practice questions and questioning techniques they can use to improve results in all their negotiations.

Mistake #3: Letting Emotions Dictate the Conversation

Emotions can cloud judgment and lead to impulsive decisions.  Letting your emotions take the driver’s seat can be a negotiation disaster, whether anger, fear, frustration, insecurity or impatience.  Instead, practice emotional intelligence.  Recognize your emotions, but don’t let them steer the conversation.  It’s important to understand that arguing intensifies peoples’ desire to prove themselves right.

Do your best to stay composed and rational when facing challenges.  Focus on the process and not the personalities involved in the negotiation.  When meeting confrontational or argumentative people in any negotiation or discussion – we recommend that our clients use the “Feel, Felt, Found” technique.  We also provide our clients with two powerful questions that will help them to separate “content versus emotion” in any negotiation.

Mistake #4: Neglecting Win-Win Solutions

Negotiation is not a zero-sum game.  It’s not about one side winning at the expense of the other.  Strive for a win-win solution that addresses both sides’ interests.  A successful negotiation leaves everyone feeling satisfied and valued, which can lead to better long-term relationships and future opportunities.  I provide my clients with a one-page Negotiating Behaviour Matrix diagram that helps them with their negotiation approach based on concern for substance versus the relationship.

Mistake #5: Overlooking Alternatives

Sometimes, negotiations hit obstacles, impasses, and deadlocks.  If you become fixated on a single solution, you risk overlooking alternative paths to success.  Always have a Plan B (and maybe even a Plan C) in your back pocket.  This flexibility can prevent you from making costly concessions you’ll regret later.  It’s also essential to develop your walk-away position in any negotiation – should the terms and conditions not meet your needs. Broadening the scope of negotiations is one of our three rules for negotiation.


In conclusion, the art, science, and sport of negotiation is a critical skill in both personal and business contexts.  By avoiding these common mistakes – failing to prepare, neglecting active listening, not asking good questions, letting emotions dictate, neglecting win-win solutions, and overlooking alternatives—you can unlock new levels of success at the negotiation table.

Remember, negotiation is not just about getting what you want; it’s about creating value and building meaningful relationships.  So, approach each negotiation with strategy, empathy, and a willingness to explore creative solutions, and watch your success soar.

Take Action and Invest in Our Expert Negotiating Training and Negotiation Coaching Packages, Negotiation Tools, and Online Course to Become a Better Negotiator.

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