“2 New Dirty Negotiation Traps To Avoid To Gain Greater Results” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Traps should be avoided but not feared. They contain insights that can frustrate greater perils.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert  (Click to Tweet)

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“2 New Dirty Negotiation Traps

To Avoid To Gain Greater Results”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you negotiate, what negotiation traps do you attempt to avoid? And do you plan for hidden snares lurking in the bowels of your talks, waiting to get sprung at the most inopportune time during the negotiation?

Negotiations can be like wars. And like wars, they employ traps that can lead an opponent into controlled environments. That is why you need to be aware of negotiation traps. Avoiding them will increase your negotiation outcomes. What follows are two negotiation traps to be mindful of and how to interact with them.

Negotiation – “Always Was” – Trap

Some negotiators will attempt to lure you into the trap of, “it’s always been like this.” The unspoken thought is, why would you want to change the status quo? Or we do not wish to change the norm. When confronted with this trap, listen intently, then probe to understand the reason behind the reluctance to change. There may be more to the opposition’s resistance than what meets the eye. And, unless you expose it, you can become stuck in this dilemma.

The Deal Offer

I recall the occasion when I was negotiating a business deal with a U.S. professional football player. The entity I represented would use his name and likeness to promote a product – he was not required to make personal appearances.

The deal offered was a nine-month license agreement with 30% of all sales that came from the product during that time. The football player was outraged – and he was not faking it. He said that no one should get more than 10% for using his name and picture, and we were attempting to rob him by asking for 70%. Initially, I was flabbergasted. That caught me off guard. We thought we were very generous with our offer.

After probing to understand his perspective, I discovered he had never paid an agent more than 10%. And that became his standard by which he would do business with anyone working to promote him, regardless of the effort he had to put forth. I attempted to restructure the offering to decrease our allotment over an extended period to see if he would budge gradually. He would not, and we did not consummate the deal. When dealing with some individuals, the lesson learned was, understand their perspective per their self-worth and how they acquired their value.

If you wonder what might make this negotiation trap dirty, it is the fact that an individual may not be aware of their biases. And thus, when they attempt to foist them upon others, it appears unfair. Therefore, depending on the personality strength of that person, it can be a no-win situation no matter what you do.      

The Negotiation Anchor Trap

There are varying thoughts about who makes the first offer, how one responds to them, and their impact on the negotiation. The trap consideration to ponder with this snare is, no matter when you make an offer or counteroffer, you anchor that person. Accordingly, you anchor that person at specific points in the discussion whenever you extend an offer or counteroffer.

Therefore, you should not get stuck on the premise that the first person making an offer is the person setting the anchor for the rest of the negotiation. To accept that premise would be to trap your mind. Instead, view the opening offer as an anchor, which might occur at any point in the negotiation. And if that sounds like I am suggesting that you play mental games with your mind, that is precisely what I am suggesting. Because anchors are nothing more than pegs placed at points in a negotiation to continue the process, they are dynamic, not static.  

To further offset the traps that can emerge from anchors, consider different facets of a problem before entering into a negotiation. If you sense the other negotiator is not savvy about the perception of anchors and the overall lack of impact they can have on a negotiation, use that to your benefit.  Doing so will allow you to use the trap against that person. To do that, consider making an outrageous opening offer that is to your advantage or one much better than your counterpart expected. The determining factor will be the individual with whom you are negotiating. You will set their expectations from that point. And if he follows your lead, you will control him for the time he takes to free himself.   


Always know what motivates your actions. That alone will help you avoid some negotiation traps. By being aware of your motivation, you can identify why you engage in certain acts. That will allow you to maintain greater control over them.

Worth noting is, a negotiator may not view himself as using negotiation traps. That will speak to the mind and tactics of the person with whom you are negotiating. Meaning you may choose to deal differently with him. Doing so may allow you to lower your guard against traps. Just make sure you do not drop your guard too far. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

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