Identifying & Avoiding Common Negotiation Mistakes

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  • 0:03 Defining Negotiations
  • 0:30 Common Mistakes in…
  • 2:16 Preventing Common Mistakes
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

When you need to negotiate to settle an issue or make a purchase, there are common pitfalls in the process that can sabotage your results. In this lesson, we'll examine common mistakes in negotiations and how to avoid them.

Defining Negotiations

Negotiations, discussions between two or more parties to settle an issue or divide an asset or resource, happen frequently. You buy a car, you negotiate with the dealership. You apply for a new job, you negotiate your salary. In a business, if you make a large purchase, you negotiate with the vendor. Since people often negotiate, it's easy to fall into the trap of making common mistakes. Let's examine some of the more common ones.

Common Mistakes in Negotiations

Taking the First Offer

After the test drive, the car salesperson slides a piece of paper across the desk with a figure circled. You look and do the mental math; it's not a bad offer. Do you take it? No, you probably shouldn't. Most parties in a negotiation come prepared with a concession or two to offer, and if you take the first deal, who knows what you've left on the table.

Lack of Preparation

If you look across the negotiating table and see a steely-eyed pro, you'll be quaking in your boots if you haven't done your homework. You can't be confident in your position unless it's well-researched and you've contemplated your options. What's your walk-away point? What concessions are you prepared to make (if any)?

Letting Your Emotions or Ego Win

The party across the table says something incendiary just to get a rise out of you. Don't fall for it. Remember your purpose and stay focused on the objective. Your ego can be a problem too - for example, don't gloat after you get what you consider to be a great deal. You may feel like the smartest person on earth right then, but if you rub it in, your opponent will surely remember it for the next time.

Not Knowing Your Alternatives

If you want to be clear on the outcome in a negotiation, you need to walk in knowing the BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) and WATNA (worst alternative to a negotiated agreement). Think of the car buying example: BATNA might be having to go to another dealer to get the car; WATNA might be having to settle for a model with fewer desired features.

Talking More Than Listening

Active listening helps build trust and rapport. If you're busy talking, you're not learning anything either. It's hard to be talking and picking up useful clues at the same time.

Preventing Common Mistakes

So, now that we know some of the common mistakes, how can we avoid them? Here are some tactics to employ:

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