“How To Avoid These Deadly Negotiation Mistakes” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Do errant actions derive from mistaken thoughts, or does a lack of thought feed thoughtless actions? Think about the way you think.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“How To Avoid These Deadly Negotiation Mistakes”

“People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating!”

The plan was to have one team member open the negotiation, and wear down its opposition. At some point, a hand signal would indicate when a different member would assume the leading role. This group of negotiators was going to play a version of good-cop, bad-cop. Because they’d negotiated with their counterparts in the past, and the negotiations had always been contentious. So when they planned the talks, they considered mistakes they might make, and developed alternative actions to control their concessions. They felt very confident as they entered the negotiation.  

And then it happened! It occurred at the 37-minute mark in the negotiation. Their lead negotiator made a colossal mistake! He lost his composure, became irate, and missed the hand signal that was supposed to indicate a change in negotiators. Both sets of negotiators engaged in verbal altercations, which almost led to physical clashes.

It’s easy to make mistakes in a negotiation. They can occur for a multitude of reasons. Some stem from misperceived actions. But a lot emanate from what someone did not do. And those can be the trickiest of mistakes to address in a negotiation.

Guard against your negotiation from being knotted-up, by observing the following ‘nots’ – they’re not in any order of priority.

1. Not Realizing You’re Always Negotiating

Good negotiators know they’re always negotiating. That means they position themselves correctly to be perceived in a particular manner before the official negotiation begins. You’ll lose positioning perception if you don’t realize you’re always negotiating. 

2. Not Planning Sufficiently For Pitfalls And Diversions  

You should prepare for a negotiation to the degree you’re committed to its outcome. Thus, by not planning effectively, you’ll expose yourself to the whims of chance and luck. And that’s a recipe for a less-than-stellar result.

3. Not Checking/Managing Egos

Many negotiations have met their demise due to the egos of the competing negotiators. And, in some cases, the negotiators were on the same team. To safeguard your negotiation, remind everyone to keep their egos in check. And be prepared to bring them back in line before someone’s ego gets out of hand and wreaks havoc on the negotiation.

4. Not Knowing The Value Proposition

The value proposition a negotiator has is the perspective he brings to the table about the value of what he’s negotiating.

  • Not knowing your value – No matter your offerings, you should recognize how the other negotiator perceives value. Because if he’s negotiating with you, there’s a reason he’s doing so, and you should know that reason.
  • Not knowing the worth of your offering  – Value is worth, and the perception someone assigns to worth is its value. If you don’t understand how valuable your offering is to the opposing negotiator, you could be setting yourself up for a significant loss – you’d do that by leaving more value on the table than you receive. Not only should you know the importance of what you have, but you should also be careful about who sets that value because that’ll determine its worth.

5. Not Getting Researched Proof About Assumptions

An assumption is nothing more than a guess. To improve your outcomes, research your ideas. Seek to verify to what degree they’re valid. Doing so will give you leverage to refute some claims and reinforce others. 

6. Not Considering Phases Of The Negotiation

Hopefully, you wouldn’t walk in dangerous environments without protection or support. And yet, by not considering where one phase of the negotiation leads, you could be moving into dangerous territory without protecting yourself. Moving without intent can leave you vulnerable to your negotiation counterpart. Always know the purpose of your actions, and where they may lead, when making offers and concessions during your negotiation.

7. Not Closing Correctly To Prevent Backdoor Escapes

Depending on its outcome, a negotiator may not like the deal. If so, he may seek ways to improve it later. That’s why you must confirm the covenants of the negotiation at its conclusion. You should also be aware of how the other negotiator appears as he’s responding to his understanding of what he and you will do next. If you sense any apprehension, address it sooner than later.  

8. Not Recognizing Others You’re Negotiating Against

Some negotiators fall prey to the ploy of thinking they have a deal, and later discovering someone else has to make the final approval. At the beginning of your negotiation, verify that the other negotiator has the authority to conclude a deal. And inquire about those that are not at the negotiation table on whose behalf he may be negotiating. Don’t be blindsided by, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell you that I have to get approval from Miss Jones.’

9. Not Using Leverage Properly

Leverage gives you the ability to exact more influence in a negotiation than the capacity you possess alone. The opportunity to use it always exists. Once you identify it, to give it more potency, apply leverage when it gives you the highest return. To do otherwise is to weaken its value.

10. Not Projecting The Right Demeanor

When you’re negotiating, you’re role-playing. That means you should cast an effect that affects the behavior best suited for the talks. Doing so correctly enhances your negotiation efforts. To project the correct attitude, don’t under or over position yourself. Thus, the best persona should be one that assists you in reaching the goals you have for the negotiation.

11. Accepting A Statement/Offer And Not Assessing Its Premise

If I tell you a story, will you believe it? Your answer depends on the narrative, your belief system, and whatever additional information you choose to make your assessment. And that same thought process is what you should undergo before accepting someone’s premise as a truth. By not challenging someone’s statement, you exclude the possibility of other thoughts, offers, or solutions to a problem. Be careful of what you accept as the truth. Everything that glitters is not gold.


So many mistakes can take a negotiation in the wrong direction. By observing the ‘nots’ mentioned, you can keep your negotiations from knotting up. In so doing, you’ll avoid the traps that ensnare most talks. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

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://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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