Negotiators Know That You Can’t Be Right If You Are Wrong

You won't get what you want if you are wrong
You won’t get what you want if you are wrong
Image Credit: Azlan DuPree

I can only speak for myself, but when I’m involved in a negotiation, I’m INVOLVED in a negotiation. Unfortunately, what this means is that my attention is almost completely focused on the issues at hand. I’m keeping track of what both sides have agreed to, where the issues are, what negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are being used and what concessions I’ve already made. What this means is that I find it hard to focus on the big issues. Like if what I’m negotiating for is the wrong thing.

If It’s Wrong, Then Don’t Do It

It’s interesting, but it turns out that during a negotiation there is one question that you are going to have to remind yourself to ask yourself over and over again. This question is “why am I participating in this negotiation?” The reason that you are going to want to be asking yourself this question is because if when you ask it if you discover that the transaction that you are working on is not satisfying, then you need to stop.

That’s right. If right there in the middle of a negotiation you come to the realization that whatever you are working so hard to get your hands on is no longer what you really want, then you need to not do it. A great example of this is if you are busily negotiating for a product just because it is cheaper than all of your other alternatives. In the middle of the negotiation you may have the sudden realization that this product is not a better product than the more expensive alternatives that you have. What this means is that you are not going to want to complete this negotiation.

Another great example of this happens when we go to buy a house. We may sit down with a piece of paper and list out exactly what we’d like to get in a house. Next, we go look at houses. We may see sweeping staircases, swimming pools, and large yards. Before we know it, we’re involved in a negotiation for a house that does not look anything like what we had originally planned on buying. We need to realize that although we may be able to reach the right price with the other side of the table, but we’d be buying the wrong item.

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators we have a number of different obligations. One of these is to keep our eyes open during a principled negotiation. It can be all too easy to become focused on the immediate issues that are on the table before us. What this means is that we may lose sight of the bigger issues. Like if what we are trying to get is the wrong thing.

One of the triggers that will tell us that we are negotiating for the wrong thing is that we’ll start to get the feeling that this negotiation is not going to satisfy us. If you start to have this feeling, then don’t continue with the negotiations. Keep in mind that just because you are going to be able to negotiate a low priced deal does not mean that it’s the right deal for you.

Negotiating is not easy, keeping your eye on the ball while negotiating is not easy either. However, if we can become aware of the bigger issues and if we can learn to trust our feelings when we are negotiating, then we’ll have a better chance of avoiding winning the deals that we really don’t want to win.

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

Question For You: How can you best get out of a negotiation that you now know is wrong?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the biggest questions that we all struggle with when we are in the middle of a negotiation has to do with goals. When a negotiation includes such items as price or delivery dates, we need to understand what we want and then we need to understand how we’re going to go about getting it. This is where the zone of uncertainty comes into play.

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