Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid

Michele Warg
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Negotiation is an unavoidable part of a professional job. Whether you're tackling salary negotiations during a job search or striking a deal with a new client, excellent bargaining skills can pay off — both literally and figuratively. No matter what the situation, avoid these negotiation mistakes and score the best possible solution.

Failing to Set Boundaries

Entering a bargaining session without a clear knowledge of your boundaries is one of the most damaging negotiation mistakes. Before you go into the room, you should identify what you want and what you require out of the deal. Know exactly what your lowest acceptable limit is, and include any associated costs in the low number to avoid losing money. Armed with this information, you can decide when to walk away and avoid wasting time with a discussion that is going nowhere.

Offering a Large Range

Many negotiations involve numbers, usually dollar amounts relating to prices or salaries. One of the easiest negotiation mistakes to make, particularly for people who are new to the process, happens when you name a large range and hope for a high result. This method, which is also called "spray and pray," is often the result of a lack of confidence or a lack of preparation. It is a common occurrence in salary negotiations with companies that require candidates to provide a salary range. Avoid getting stuck with a low number by doing your research in advance. Never give a low number that is below your absolute minimum, and resist the urge to go so high that you offend the other party or price yourself out of the running.

Refusing to Compromise

By its very nature, negotiation requires compromise from both parties. If one person comes into the discussion unwilling to budge, the discussion is essentially over before it begins. Refusing to compromise on any of your points is one of the negotiation mistakes that can cost you the deal and give you a poor reputation, all in one fell swoop. Make it easier to compromise by preparing more than one suitable option. If the first offer is unacceptable, backup options can save you from floundering and ruining the session.

Talking Too Much

Professional situations often come with high levels of stress and tension. If, like many people, you let out your nervous energy with an overload of chatter, you can lose a significant amount of ground right off the bat. When it comes to negotiation mistakes, talking too much is a common problem. A better strategy is to sit quietly and allow the other person to speak. If you need time to think, ask open-ended questions. By keeping quiet at least as often as you talk, you can gain valuable insight that helps you get to the heart of the problem faster.

Negotiation mistakes are unavoidable, no matter where you are in your career. When you are aware of common mistakes, you can prepare accordingly and find ways to circumvent them before they become a high-priced problem.


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