Negotiation Pitfalls

Negotiations. Some people love them. I don’t. My strategy is to go in more informed than the person I’m dealing with, with hard data to back me up, force a short circuit to the bottom line, and figure out if it’s worth talking for any more than 15 minutes. But still, it’s part of the job description, so it’s worth, at the very least, knowing what not to do, especially since one could always debate as to what one should do in a particular situation. (Don’t know where to start at all? You might consider checking out Powerful Negotiation for Successful Buying, a course from Next Level Purchasing. You might also consider boning up on your leverage points.)

Supply Chain Digest recently ran a brief summary of what not to do in their article on 15 Negotiation Pitfalls – and How to Avoid Them that serves as a good cheat sheet on what not do do. (For a longer guide, check out the guide to UK SuperMarket Negotiating Tactics.) Although all 15 are good tips, my favorite 5 were

  • Confusing Contention for Problem Solving
    If negotiations demand contention, because the other side won’t have a negotiation without it, have two parties represent each side, one party to bicker, and one party to actually solve problems.
  • Confusing Superior Force with a Better Bargaining Position
    “We are a $10 Billion company – we can buy and sell your sorry butt 20 times over …” is not a very useful threat if the other company is not for sale and has a specific piece of IP you need to take your product to the next level.
  • Confusing Negotiations with Psychological Warfare
    In addition to preventing problem solving, there’s always a chance the other party could be carrying a concealed weapon and just snap. (Its a fact that some negotiations have ended in physical violence.)
  • Going for broke when you’ve already won
    Once your pre-established conditions are met, especially if your targets were aggressive, pushing forward just in case you might have “left something on the table” or because you might be able to “squeeze more blood out of the stone” is not a good idea. The other party might think you’re totally unreasonable to work with, get up, walk away, and take their goods and services to your direct competitor instead.
  • Focussing on the other party, and not on what the other party is representing.
    It’s not personal, it’s business.

Also, if you want a larger, more detailed list of Negotiation No-Nos, you might consider the Next Level Purchasing course of the same name.

P.S. You might also be interested in the recent Spend Matters post on this topic, which went live after I originally drafted this post.