Do Not Be Too Greedy When Negotiating

How many times have you found yourself in a position of achieving what you sought from a negotiation and then found you’d lost what you’d gained, or some of it? Did you feel foolish? Did you realize that you may have been too greedy during the negotiation?

Most people are aware that greed can kill them in a negotiation. Yet, some people will push the envelope, in an attempt to get every scrap on the table, while apparently being blind to the risks of loss to which they subject themselves. In addition, some people place too much focus on the short-term gain, at the expense of gains they can make over an extended period. In essence, some people get greedy and they don’t know when to stop negotiating. Thus, they negotiate too long.

In a recent article I wrote, I highlighted a few strategies by which one could identify when to consider exiting a negotiation. I discussed the value of having a bracket system (identifying high, middle, and low ranges of your wants prior to entering into a negotiation) to serve as that guideline. I also discussed being able to accurately read and interpret the body language of the other negotiator as yet another way to gain insight into identifying the time to stop negotiating. All of these factors will assist you in your efforts to identify how close you are to losing what you’ve acquired, and keep you from becoming greedy at the negotiation table. In addition, consider these factors…

  • Don’t misread a position you perceive the other negotiator to possess, without the benefit of verification. If you’re unsure of his position, clarify it before it blooms out of control. Once again, it is at that point that you should consider pausing the negotiation in order to confirm that it’s progressing correctly and you’re not being perceived as being greedy.
  • From a give and take perspective, to gain a better perspective of what the other negotiator is confronting, honestly try to view the negotiation from her perspective; try subjugating your position in order to do so more thoroughly. (The attempt is to gain greater insight into her perspective, not to necessarily put your desires for the outcome of the negotiation at a lower priority.)
  • To the degree you can control the allotted time of the negotiation, use it as a delimiter to indicate when the negotiation might/should end. Be cognizant of the fact that people tend to negotiate more earnestly as they feel the pressure of time ebbing away. Therefore, you can use the time factor as a way to strengthen your position by holding off on the most important items requested by the other negotiator, but consider how you might be perceived when it comes to asking for too much at this time.

In any negotiation, as the song goes, you must know when to hold them and know when to fold them (stop negotiating). The perception of greed, by yourself and the other negotiator, plays an important role in that process. If you can be attentive to such a variable during a negotiation, such diligence will serve you well. By not knowing how the greed factor is influencing the negotiation, your negotiation can excel or be diminished. Thus, by knowing such information, you can prevent the end of the negotiation from occurring prematurely… and everything will be right with the world. Remember, you’re always negotiating.

“When negotiating, don’t let greed, or the allure of it, block future opportunities. Exercise balance when comparing today’s gains against tomorrow’s prospects.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator

Negotiation Tips:

  • If you know greed is becoming an overbearing factor in the negotiation, stop appearing to be greedy; you’ll become a better negotiator as the result of your actions.
  • If a negotiation fails, due to the perception of your greediness, consider stopping the negotiation at the appropriate time, and learn from your failure. Your failure in that session can become your stepping-stone to future success, once you alter the perception of your actions.
  • Don’t play into the emotional instability of the other negotiator when it comes to greed and be drawn through a stop sign (continue negotiating when you should stop). To strengthen your negotiation position, always be willing to stop the negotiation by walking away (ending it).
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