Three Reasons Why Your Next Negotiation Could Fail

Every negotiation comes with its own set of potential pitfalls
Every negotiation comes with its own set of potential pitfalls
Image Credit: jason gessner

Not every negotiation that we are involved in will work out for us. In fact, some of them will fail. When we think of failed negotiations, generally we picture negotiators walking away from the table in disappointment. It turns out that that’s only one type of disappointing negotiation. It turns out that there is another type of failure when it comes to negotiating. A negotiation can be considered to be a failure when both sides come to regret the deal over time as well as those deals that fall apart during implementation. As negotiators, we need to learn how to avoid creating deals that will become failures.

We Walk Away From A Good Deal

Not every negotiation that we will be involved will proceed smoothly. There will be times that after using all of our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques we reach an impasse even though our best alternative to a negotiated agreement, BATNA, is worse than the deal that’s on the table. There are a lot of things that can contribute to this situation including strong emotions, threats, and overconfidence.

Threats are a powerful negotiating tool. As negotiators we need to understand that when we issue a threat, we need to be sure that we will feel comfortable implementing our BATNA in the event that the other side refuses to meet our demands. To make sure that you don’t get into a tricky situation, before you issue a threat, carefully analyze your BATNA, compare it to the deal on the table, and then make the most rational choice—as painful as that sometimes can be.

We Make A Deal That We Later Regret

We are always looking for the deal that is the best for us. We can make a mistake and reject a deal that turned out to be better than our BATNA was. At the same time, we can find ourselves accepting a deal that’s worse than our BATNA. This can occur because we’re often unaware that we’ve left value on the negotiating table until later.

We need to keep in mind that in all types of business negotiations, it’s tempting to cut corners on due diligence. We tend to do things like this when goodwill and enthusiasm are running high. The wise negotiator considers the potential risks and downsides of a deal as thoroughly as possible in order to not make a mistake.

We Negotiate A Deal That’s Too Weak To Last For Long

Good negotiators understand that a negotiation extends on long after the discussions are over. Any deal that is reached is going to have to be implemented by both sides. That’s why a failure in negotiations is an agreement that reaches the finish line but quickly falls apart during the implementation phase. Such deals often collapse due to a negotiator’s failure to confront conflict during negotiations or to give the deal a sound structure.

Negotiators need to understand that if mistrust exists between both sides, then any deal that we’re going to be able to reach will end up becoming spoiled during the implementation phase. The best negotiators take the time to build rapport and trust throughout the negotiation process, and negotiate the terms of implementation thoroughly.

What All Of This Means For You

The reason that we’re willing to invest the time, energy, and effort into a principled negotiation is because we believe that we can create a deal that both sides will agree to. However, negotiations can fail. What this means is that we were either not able to reach a deal with the other side or we did reach a deal, but it was a bad deal. No matter the cause, negotiators need to understand what a bad deal looks like so that we can avoid making them.

Negotiating failures can take on many different forms. One type of negotiation failure happens when we walk away from a deal that would have been good for us. One of the reasons that this may happen is because we decided to use threats that ended up forcing us to walk away. We can also enter into deal that we’ll end up regretting later on. If we cut corners and don’t do our due diligence, then we may end up accepting a deal that is no good for us. We can also negotiate a deal that turns out to be too weak to last. These deals tend to fall apart during the implementation phase.

In order to be viewed as being a successful negotiator, we need to be able to create deals that will be beneficial to both sides. If the deals that we are putting together become failures, then nobody is going to want to negotiate with us. Take the time to carefully look at the deal that you are working on and make sure that it’s going to create a deal that will be beneficial to both sides.

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

Question For You: What can you do during a negotiation to ensure that a deal will be able to be implemented successfully by both sides?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I can only speak for myself, but I have no problem sharing with you that during a negotiation I can become very, very frustrated with how things are going. No matter if your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are causing things to go too slow, go off in the wrong direction, or, even worse, not go anywhere. I start to become angrier and angrier as time passes. This, of course, leads to a fairly classic negotiating question. When you become angry during a negotiation, should you hide your emotions or should you show them to the other side?