What NOT to do to get the best deal at the negotiation table

14 December 2016 -


Read the four biggest mistakes to avoid when thrashing out a deal - and how to avoid them. The latest in a series leading up to the announcement of the 2017 Management Book of the Year

By Management Book of the Year Shortlisted Author Natalie Reynolds

Mistake 1: Thinking negotiation is all about winning

It isn't. Not outwardly anyway. At the end of the negotiation you want the other party to feel like they have "won". Because if they feel like they have lost, the negotiation ends and they will be the client or customer who keeps coming back, asking for more, making late payment, not prioritising your requests or just being generally un-cooperative.

Nobody likes to feel like a fool. So at the end of the negotiation, make sure you behave with grace and professionalism. Make them feel like they have won, even if you know that you have secured the deal of a lifetime.

Mistake 2: Avoiding negotiation is a clever strategy

I know, let's just skip that negotiation part! No one really likes doing it, so let's just cut to the chase and save time. We all know it's just a game, right? Wrong.

A common mistake is to try and bypass the negotiation entirely, believing that both you and the other party will be grateful that they have avoided all that unnecessary awkwardness.

The problem with this strategy is that despite the old saying, people do look a gift horse in the mouth. If something is too easy, people start to wonder why that was the case and what might be wrong with the deal they have just (so easily) agreed to.

Mistake 3: Being a little ‘self-obsessed’

When we approach a negotiation, we often spend most of our time thinking of all the reasons why the outcome is important to us. We get bogged down in thinking about deadlines, expectations, demands, targets, pressure from competitors, ambition or whatever it might be that matters to us. This often results in anxiety, fear and nervousness clouding our judgement, planning and performance.

Smart negotiators realise that the best way to diffuse the pressure of our own expectations is to simply acknowledge these pressures and then put them to one side.

The real set of pressures and priorities that we should be thinking about exist in the head of our counterparty. Even if they do come across as powerful and intimidating, they too will have deadlines, expectations from colleagues and demands from their boss.

Mistake 4: Underestimating the difference it can make

A routine excuse people give for not negotiating for that ‘bit more’ or the ‘best they can possibly get’ is that they have already got an ‘OK’ deal…so why push for more?

Before you decide to call it quits, remember that ‘little things add up’. Take the example of two 30 year old workers starting the same job and being offered the same salary of £100k.

One accepts the £100k and one negotiates for more securing £106k. If they worked for 35 years, both receiving 4% uplifts each year the employee that DIDN’T negotiate will need to work six extra years to be as wealthy at retirement as the one who DID.

Or imagine the impact to your firm if you could get an extra 5% on every fee agreed worldwide just by negotiating more effectively.

Little things can really add up…


Natalie Reynolds is the author of We Have a Deal, which is shortlisted in the Commuter’s Read category of the 2017 Management Book of the Year Awards

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