How To Avoid Being Overconfident In Your Next Negotiation

Being overconfident can affect your judgement during a negotiation
Being overconfident can affect your judgement during a negotiation
Image Credit: myri_bonnie

In addition to different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques there are a number of different things that negotiators need to be able to deal with during a negotiation. Being overconfident is one of these. What we need to understand is that if we allow ourselves to become overconfident, then there is a good chance that it is going to affect both our judgement and our decision making process. What we need are ways to detect when we are becoming overconfident and ways to deal with it when it happens.

Take Time To Collect information

When we enter into a negotiation where the outcome really matters, we need to make sure that we’re not spending too much of our time admiring our virtues and fretting over flaws. We can get into trouble when we lack information about the other side. For this reason, you need to seek out as much relevant information about the other side as you can, and use that information to your advantage. One simple way that you can make this happen is to listen closely to the other side, and update your beliefs when required.

Think About The Opposite

We will all at some time or another have biases in our judgement. When this happens we need to find ways to correct them. Note that overconfidence is one such bias. One way to overcome this kind of bias is to take the time to think of reasons why your initial guesses could be wrong. What you want to do is to consider the possibility that the opposite of your assumption is true. When you consider the opposite assumption what might this mean for your negotiation?

Get Someone To Play The Devil’s Advocate

During a negotiation is not the only time that someone could be questioning your thinking. If you have the time, set up an opportunity to run though a sample negotiation before you find yourself in the middle of the real thing. Before and during a negotiation, ask others within your organization to question you about your approach and assumptions. Keep in mind that this may be politically awkward; the people on your team won’t want to tell you that you’re wrong. Yet good negotiators base their decisions on high-quality information, not the information that makes them feel good. If you want to pick the right negotiation strategy, you will have to be able to persuade the other members of your team to give you critical, thoughtful feedback – not the information they think will make you happy.

You Are Just As Good As The Other Side

Negotiating is not easy to do and it is especially not easy to do the right way. The challenges presented by negotiating are why many people find negotiation stressful and attempt to avoid it whenever possible. The fear of not knowing what to say may lead you to assume that you won’t get what you want from the process. Note that this prediction rests on the parallel assumption that the other side is an avid, expert bargainer. In fact, it’s just as likely that the other side is as nervous as you are. Don’t let fear cause you to let negotiation opportunities pass you by.

What All Of This Means For You

The mindset that a negotiator has when they go into a negotiation can play a big role in the type of deal that they are able to walk away with. One of the biggest challenges that we can end up facing is when we go into a principled negotiation feeling overconfident. This can cause a lot of problems for us, not the least of which have to do with our judgement and our decision making process.

The first thing that we need to understand is that often our overconfidence comes from the fact that we lack information about the other side. We need to take the time to collect as much information about them and the negotiation as we can. We also have to acknowledge that we don’t know it all – in fact we might be wrong. This means that we need to take time and think about things from the opposite point-of-view in order to see if we might be missing something. If it is possible, we need to get somebody to play devil’s advocate with us before the negotiations start so that we can try out our thinking. Keep in mind that you are probably just as good of a negotiator as the other side is.

Keeping a level set mind as we go into a negotiation is our best chance of being able to walk away with a deal that we can live with. Overconfidence is something that can screw everything up. We need to be able to detect when we are feeling overconfident and then take steps to minimize its effects. Understand that this is one bias that we all have to deal with and keep your eyes open as you go into your next negotiation. If you can do this, then you can overcome the bias of overconfidence and be a successful negotiator.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If you discover that you are overconfident during a negotiation, what can you do to fix the problem?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, during a negotiation things can go wrong. You were making progress using your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to work towards reaching a deal one minute and then all of a sudden you find yourself staring at an impasse. You have made offers to the other side, they have made offers to you and you thought that you were approaching middle ground; however, it now appears as though you are not close enough to agree on a deal. Now what is a negotiator to do? This might be the time for you to start to use MESOs in this negotiation.