Nobody Likes A Good Negotiator

You Can Either Be Liked, Or Be A Good Sales Negotiator
You Can Either Be Liked, Or Be A Good Sales Negotiator

So it turns out that one of the key personality characteristics that may have gotten you this far in your career may actually be hindering your ability to negotiate. Yep, in the world of negotiating, there’s no place for a nice guy.

It’s All About Conflict

We spend a lot of time talking about how we’d like each and every one of our negotiating sessions to result in a “win-win” outcome. That’s all very nice. No matter what negotiation styles you use or what negotiating techniques you employ during a negotiation, you need to be disliked by the other side.

This may seem a bit harsh, but if I had to come up with a negotiation definition, I would have to call it “controlled conflict”. That means that your job is to reach an agreement with the other side, not to be liked by them.

The reason that this is such a big deal is simply because deep down inside, we all have a fundamental need to be liked. As we conduct our principled negotiation we expect that if we go to the effort of liking the other side of the table, they will like us and everyone will be able to reach that “win-win” finish line. Sadly, real life doesn’t work that way.

Instead, if you have too much of a need to be liked, there is a very good chance the that other side of the table will pick up on this and will use it against you. At different times they may make you feel as though you are their best friend as they attempt to get you to agree to what they want. At other times they may appear to be cold and distant in order to make you search for ways to bring them back close to you by giving in to their demands.

Give it up. In the world of negotiations you can either be liked by the other side or you can be a successful negotiator – you can only have one, please choose now.

Why It’s Ok To Not Be A Nice Guy (or Girl)

As counter-intuitive as this may seem, during the negotiation process you don’t have to worry about what the other side thinks about you. In fact, if you can find a way to not spend any time thinking about what they think of you, you’ll be much better off.

If you spend too much time thinking about how you are being viewed, it will take time away from what you should be focused on: reaching the best deal. When the other side appears to be hostile and makes attacks that almost seem to be personal affronts, if we are worrying about how the other side views us then we’ll be distracted from crafting an effective response.

Instead, focus on what’s being negotiated. You want the other side of the table to not like you – your goal is not to be their friend during the negotiation. Depending on what’s being negotiated, the negotiations could drag on for quite some time. Allowing the other side to not like you takes an enormous burden off of your shoulders and allows you to focus on what’s really important: reaching a deal.

What All Of This Means For You

We would all like to be liked by everyone that we come into contact with. The problem with this is that during a sales negotiation, this need to be liked can turn into a significant handicap. We need to get over it.

If you can allow yourself to not care how the other side of the table is viewing you during a negotiation, you will be in a much stronger position. Realizing that if you allow the other side to influence how you feel that they feel about you then they will be able to get you to make concessions that you wouldn’t normally have made. Instead, put aside your need to be liked during the negotiation and instead focus on reaching the best deal possible.

It’s not easy to not care how someone feels about you. However, when you are in the middle of negotiating a big deal you need to be able to do this. There will be time to mend fences and build bridges with the other side of the negotiating table – after you have successfully reached a deal with them!

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

Question For You: Where do you think the line should be drawn between being not nice and being a jerk?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The goal of any sales negotiation is for both sides of the table to eventually reach an agreement that they both can live with. Although this sounds simple, sometimes such an agreement can appear to be unobtainable. However, never say never – it turns out that there is a simple technique that may yet snatch a victory for you from the jaws of defeat