Most of us cringe when we hear the word “negotiation.” That might be because we have a misconception about what a true negotiation is or it might be because we’ve made mistakes in past negotiations that have cost us what we really wanted. Whatever the reason, there are things you can plan and watch for to avoid the common pitfalls of negotiation.
What is negotiation?
Before we look at the pitfalls and how to avoid them, we need to understand what negotiation is really all about. Many people in the West see it as an aggressive tit-for-tat, which makes us want to avoid it at all cost. Most people don’t like confrontation and see negotiation as just that.
But if we change our way of thinking about negotiation, we can see that we can be successful at it and perhaps not shy away from it. Negotiation is about problem-solving. Two people or parties want the same overall goal but have different ways of getting there. Avoiding these pitfalls will make negotiation less harrowing and more successful.
So, what are some of these common pitfalls people find themselves in when negotiating? Here are my top 15:
Trying to get it all
Giving into the pressured sell
Thinking instead of listening
Interrupting the other person
Focusing on the unimportant details
Not asking for what you want
Talking too much
Waiting until the last minute
Not knowing your fallback
Only focusing on price
Avoid making personal connections
Telling too much personal information
Misconceptions about Negotiating
The pervasive perception of negotiation in the West is more negative than it is in most other places in the world. We imagine men screaming at each other across a boardroom table, spittle flying. But that’s not what negotiation really looks like if you are doing it right. The goal of negotiation is for both parties to get what they want. The aim is to reach a win-win. There are several misconceptions about negotiating that I would like to straighten out.
It’s too combative
As mentioned above, negotiation shouldn’t be aggressive or nasty. You don’t need to view it as a competition or confrontation because it’s not. Instead, bargaining is simply an exchange of points and offers.
It’s only for cheapskates
More people are watching their pennies nowadays, and one way to improve your wealth is to negotiate, especially on high ticket items. Why pay more than you need to? How do you think people with a lot of money in the bank got there? No doubt, part of their strategy was to negotiate the price of things when appropriate.
Especially in the case of high ticket items, sales people expect you to try to negotiate price. If you own a house, for example, did you settle on the asking price or did you offer less? Same with a car. Most car dealerships state their highest price, knowing that people will ask for something lower. If they get their asking price, all the better. But they don’t expect it. It’s not improper to save money.
It takes a certain type of personality
This misconception goes back to believing that negotiating is aggressive. Though it may feel less than comfortable in the beginning, some practice can take care of that. Even shy people can learn to negotiate. It’s a skill that can be learned, not necessarily something you are born with.
It’s not worth the time or money
Again, in the case of expensive purchases, it can be well worth your time to negotiate price. Many people who are selling something, whether a company or an individual on Craig’s List set their price high, expecting to bargain. Is it worth your time to shave a few car payments off the life of your car loan? If not, it should be.
This misconception is rooted in the fact that most people are uncomfortable negotiating. But all it takes is some practice. You also won’t negotiate on everything you buy. The kid checking you out at a fast food place or movie theater isn’t going to knock down the price. But the salesman trying to sell you a dishwasher probably would. Knowing when to bargain and then practicing it is all that is needed to end the embarrassment.
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