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Why do negotiations fail? Maybe you think about yourself too much

Ted Blackwater |
To be a good negotiator is not easy. You have to have a lot of experience and knowledge but maybe the most important advice would be to think about the other side more, and leave your ego behind if you want success.


To negotiate something in your favor you have to use a range of tactics, depending on a situation and the goal you want to achieve. Be it a kid that doesn't want to eat her lunch or a huge business deal, it all comes down to one thing: you want something.

So, in the first place, you are thinking about your own interest and then comes everything else. And that's normal, that is the very reason you are going into negotiations in the first place. But, surprisingly, that may lead to a fail. Let's see some common reasons why negotiations fail and what is behind it.

It may come as a surprise but the first reason could be too much talk. You might think that you have to elaborate everything and more about your position to make the other side understand your reasons and agree to a deal. But if you talk too much you won't get what you want.

Being lost in your own talk it's easy to forget the main objective goal of any negotiation: to make both parties satisfied. So, if you don't allow the other side to talk and bring forward their stand and reasons, you will achieve an unwanted goal: people will see you as an egocentric person who doesn't care about others.

And they would be right. You won't give them a chance to bring their argument and you won't see why they came to a negotiating table and what they want. You will be seen as "only me person" and you will go home without a deal.

The next mistake would be to hide your feelings altogether. You might think that you can negotiate avoiding emotive language because emotions will show what you really want. That has bad consequences and they are easy to see.

If you do that you may lose clarity. Business is not just about numbers but also about people and workers and employees and profit and human relations. So, everything is important.

If you don't show any emotions the other side will think that you don't care about them too and that would be true. And it's not easy to negotiate with a robot so people will show you the door. Sharing your feelings is a powerful thing so don't think that hiding them will show your strength, it will show just one thing and that's that you are thinking about yourself and nothing else.

Another mistake would be to offer a counter proposal on every offer the other side makes. There are a million things that make a successful business cooperation and if you make a counter offer on every one of them, the conclusion is so easy: you are thinking about yourself only.

A successful negotiator makes half the counter offers than an unsuccessful one. That's a rule of thumb but it is a very important thing to remember. When negotiating, you must have a stand to protect your business but you must also allow the other side to get something good from your relationship.

So, if you are making counter offers after every sentence you will be very annoying but what's even most important is that you will show that you don't list the other side. It is impossible that you have an objection on everything the other side proposes, that's simply impossible.

All those examples and mistakes show one thing: although we should think about ourselves first, we must also think about the other side.

The thing is, we are genetically wired to think about ourselves in every situation because our life depends on it: if our business fails we may be without work and that means without bread on the table. So, being egocentric to a degree is good but there is a catch.

Humans are social beings and we learn through ages that we may achieve a lot more if we work together. If you lose on one side, you will see a gain on another. If you lose a few percentages here, you will get more products there. If you lower your prices, you may sell more products. You can always let something go to get something else.

So, it is good to think about yourself but not only about yourself. That's true for life and that's true for business. Because there are other people out there who think about you too.


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