Good Negotiators Don’t Talk About Their Weaknesses

Never talk about your weaknesses when negotiating
Never talk about your weaknesses when negotiating

Image Credit: Joseph Gilbert

When we negotiate, we want to do it from a position of strength. However, we all know the reality: we each have our own special set of weaknesses. That we have these weaknesses is no big secret; however, exactly what weaknesses we have is a big secret – at least from the other side of the table. Knowing what you don’t do well could help them to get a better deal. This means that you need to know how to manage your weaknesses.

What Not To Tell The Other Side

If you want to make sure that you don’t share too much information about what you don’t do well with the other side of the table, then you had better take the time to get to know yourself. One thing that you are not going to want to do is to talk too much to the other side of the table. In any conversation, one of your weaknesses could be mentioned. If you do this, the other side will undoubtedly seize on it and will end up using it against you.

If you don’t know something going into a negotiation, don’t bring it up and don’t make it part of the negotiation. Instead, focus on the strengths of your proposal. If you know that a price that you are offering is lower than other prices that are being offered, don’t bring it up. What you don’t want to do is to expose or mention your known weaknesses.

The other side is always going to be closely watching and listening to you. What they are trying to determine is how they can get a better deal out of you. Any mention of a weakness or something that you don’t do especially well will trigger them to take notice. Once they’ve latched on to something, they won’t let go of it for the entire negotiation.

How You Can Hide Your Weaknesses

We have to acknowledge that we all have weaknesses. Now the next step is to understand that we need to keep this information from the other side of the table. We understand that they are going to be keeping their eyes open and will be looking for any indication from us as to what we don’t do well. The most fundamental thing that we can do is to simply keep our mouths shut.

Let’s say for example that when you enter into a negotiation, the final price that you arrive at is not the most important thing to you. This is a piece of information that you are not going to want to share with the other side. If you were to allow it to slip out, then the other side is going to end up spending the entire negotiation trying to get the highest price out of you. This will probably be a successful tactic on his part because you told him that it would work.

The same thing can be said about negotiating skills. If you let the other side of the table know that you feel that your math skills are not very good, then you will have given them a great deal of power over you. You’ll be amazed at just how much math and the associated formulas start to show up in the negotiations once this knowledge has been shared with the other side.

In order to overcome the weaknesses that you have, you need to take defensive actions. What you are going to have to do is to bring in reinforcements based on the specific personal weaknesses that you have identified. If you are not good at math, make sure that you always show up with a calculator that you know how to use. If your memory is not that good, make sure that you do good job of keeping detailed notes. If you need it, bring in an expert in some area who can help you out – an accountant, a lawyer, or even an engineer.

What All Of This Means For You

None of us are perfect, we all have weaknesses. When we are involved in a negotiation, we need to take steps to hide our weaknesses from the other side of the table. If they are able to discover what we don’t do well, then they will have gained power over us. We don’t want to allow this to happen.

We need to learn to keep our mouths shut. This means that if we don’t care about some aspect of the negotiation such as price, we have to be very careful that we don’t in some way communicate this to the other side. If you know what your weaknesses are, then you can take steps to arrive prepared to cover them up. You can always bring other people into the negotiation in order to help you do a better job in some area.

Personal weaknesses are a fact of life. What we need to learn to do is to not communicate what we don’t do well to the other side. If we can get good at this, then we will have gained power for ourselves. The next time that you are in a negotiation, keep your mouth shut about what you don’t do well!

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

Question For You: If you do let a weakness slip out during a negoitiation, what steps can you take to correct this situation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Any negotiator knows that in a negotiation, information is power. The more information that you share with the other side of the table, the more power you are handing over to them. Just because you know this, does not necessarily mean that the rest of your team also understands it. As a negotiator, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your team doesn’t end up sharing more than they should with the other side.