“5 Big Mistakes Bad Negotiators Absolutely Make When They Negotiate” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“You can lack knowledge. But don’t lack the fear of it.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“5 Big Mistakes Bad Negotiators

Absolutely Make When They Negotiate”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Do you consider yourself a good or bad negotiator, or somewhere in between? What separates good and bad negotiators during negotiations is their questions, thought processes, and how they control their discussions. And throughout the negotiation proceedings, there are five big mistakes bad negotiators make that rob them of more significant negotiation outcomes.

The following are five egregious mistakes bad negotiators make and how you can avoid them to enhance your negotiation outcomes.

Mistake #1 – Not Knowing How To Ask The Right Questions At The Right Time

The questions you ask during a negotiation determine the answers you receive. Thus, your questions determine how well you negotiate, the flow of the discussion, and its outcome. Accordingly, questions are an integral part of a good negotiator’s repertoire. And it is a skill the bad negotiators sorely need.  

First, when you ask questions, you control the flow of the negotiation – because the other negotiator is giving you information as long as they are answering your questions. Plus, during that time, your questions are determining what will occur next in the talks.

Therefore, if you wish to maintain greater control of the negotiation, you must ask questions that have the most impact on your talks at the time you pose them. And that timing depends on what you are discussing, along with what you are attempting to achieve.

Mistake #2 – Not Paying Enough Attention To Body Language And Nonverbal Cues

Negotiators emit signals during negotiations that expose their inner thoughts. And while some negotiators may observe some of those signals, bad negotiators miss the easier ones to spot.

For example, when a negotiator clears her throat, readjust her position while seated, begins fidgeting with a pen or her hair, etc., she commits those actions based on her thinking. At that moment, consider the thoughts she is having and the point they began. It is the silent signals, once observed, that give a negotiator extra information that informs them of their next steps.  

Mistake #3 – Not Knowing When To Stop Negotiating

Bad negotiators can possess the trait of not knowing when to stop negotiating. At times, greed may dominate their actions. They may think there is more on the table that they can grab, so why not go for it. At other times, they may feel intimidated by the proceedings and shrink from the opportunity to enhance their negotiation position.

Good negotiators know the difference between those points. And they know how to engage in the delicate balance of taking enough while leaving enough for the other negotiator. That way, both of them experience the feeling of victory from engaging in the negotiation as winners.   

To enhance your perspective on what is enough for yourself and your opposition, first, know what you are willing to accept and your walk-away point. Assess that factor per the other negotiator’s needs, too. During the talks, ask what deal might the other negotiator receive to be happy. The balance between what you and she will accept is the point to settle on.

Bad negotiators may be reluctant to pose this question for fear of not controlling the response. And in so doing, they hobble the opportunity to advance their potential gains. In reality, no matter what the answer, they will have gained additional insight that gives them a target for which to aim. It will also provide them with another perspective from which to negotiate.  

Mistake #4 – Not Knowing How To Exit The Negotiation

Another bad mistake that bad negotiators make is not exiting the negotiation correctly. They leave backdoors open that allow the other negotiator to finagle his way into a better deal than the one upon which was agreed.

Good negotiators are aware that a negotiation agreement is most vulnerable as negotiators get closer to agreeing on a deal. And it becomes even more susceptible to tampering once it has entered into the acceptance stage.

When concluding a negotiation, confirm that all parties agree upon the discussed outcome. Do not be afraid to address concerns the other negotiator may have. Just be sure that you state emphatically that your current discussion is to clarify everyone’s understanding. That will become your silent signal indicating you are not renegotiating what the two of you have agreed.

Mistake #5 – Not Knowing How To Push Back Against The Other Negotiator

When I was a young boy, my grandmother told me, there is a right way to do something, and there is a wrong way. And sometimes, you can do wrong right, which will be the best way to do it. As I grew older, I pondered her words on many occasions.

The point is, when negotiating, you must know how and when to refute your opponent’s position – everything does not deserve a rebuttal. If you engage in such, that could take you off track from your goals.

To avoid the mistake of responding to every question, statement, and request, ask your opposition what is most important. Prioritize the responses the opposition cites. And determine its value to you. Then, assess what you will trade-off to get the opposition to do the same. Doing that will avoid addressing possible whims, and it will give you greater control of the negotiation. 


Everyone makes mistakes. But bad negotiators turn bad mistakes into bad negotiations. And those bad negotiation mistakes bring about bad negotiation outcomes.

By following the prior mentioned advice, you can avert bad negotiation mistakes. That will keep you from the bad negotiator collum and place you in one that wins more negotiations. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/blog

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