Negotiating: What to Avoid When Negotiating

Everyone negotiates. It is part of socializing, working, marriage, virtually all aspects of our lives. But some negotiations are more important than others such as those with a spouse, boss or the armed robber you are facing down over the barrel of a gun.

Negotiating on a social or personal level impacts our personal lives beyond the immediate debate. The same applies to how we handle negotiations in the workplace or school. We should be aware of the potential collateral damage that can be caused by what we do or say when negotiating.

There are some things you should avoid when negotiating.

Don't Antagonize

If you want to get someone to do something they don't want to do, does it make sense to irritate or antagonize them when negotiating the matter? Unless you have a strong power advantage over the other person or maximum leverage, it is better to seek their support rather than use ridicule or anger to force the issue. This is especially true when the relationship with the other person is expected to survive the immediate situation.


Don't Bluff
Persuasion Techniques
Bluffing carries significant risk. As poker players know, if you are repeatedly caught bluffing your effectiveness will be undermined and you will be left with bartering as your primary negotiating tool. This is a one-dimensional tactic and not one that will add value to what you are exchanging.

Also, avoid bluffing when negotiating with a friend or family member. If you frequently get caught bluffing by a friend or family member, it can be perceived as a pattern of lying and you run the risk eroding trust with those you care about. Lose of trust is very damaging to any relationship.

Don't Corner

No one likes to feel helpless. Avoid when negotiating forcing someone into a corner. You are asking them to strike out, hit back or otherwise hurt you by cornering them. Even if they acquiesce at the time, they will harbor resentment at being forced to do what you want. This resentment will build overtime if you continually corner someone their resentment will likely build until they find a way to sever the relationship.

Don't Win the Battle and Risk Losing the War

It is fun to win. Most of us are programmed to do so. The problem arises is when we seek to always win and let our passion for winning damage the relationships we value. It is important to maintain your perspective when discussions get heated and pick the right battles to fight, much less win.

Some battles are meant to be lost strategically to allow wars to be won. Make sure the battle you are fighting is worth winning. The best way to do this is to assess what you will gain by winning and what the other person will lose. Avoid when negotiating battles where the losses of the other person will be significant, including damage to his or her ego, and your winnings trivial. These may be skirmishes that make sense to concede to preserve a valuable relationship.

Keep your perspective about the big picture, the relationship, as compared to the immediate situation. You may lose big by winning!

Don't Forget to Mend Fences

Everyone loves a winner; few like braggarts. Avoid inadvertently abusing the loser when you prevail. When you come out on top take the time to shore up the relationship with the other person. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, friend, boss or business associate, you seldom want to jeopardize a relationship by not taking a little time to ease the other person's pain of losing.

This investment in the relationship will pay dividends down the road.