As negotiators, we end up putting up with a lot during a negotiation. We know that no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques we are using, we often make mistakes during a negotiation and all too often we end up punishing ourselves for the things that we think that we could have done better. No matter if it’s an answer to a question that we didn’t have or when you wanted to say something, but the words just got away from you. It turns out that making these mistakes is ok because you do have a bill of rights. There is a set of things that it’s ok for you to do during any negotiation.
You Can Be Wrong
If you think that you always have to be right all the time, then that can be a real burden on you. The good news is that it turns out that you really don’t have to be 100% correct all the time. You can be wrong some of the time. In fact, the other side of the table probably expects you to be wrong some of the time. It’s knowing what you should do when you discover that you were wrong that is the key.
If you make a mistake and tell the other side something that turns out to be incorrect, what you need to do is to own your mistake. You need to pick up the phone, call the other side, tell them that you made a mistake, and then provide them with the correct information. By doing this you will raise your standing in their eyes because they will be impressed that you owned up to your own mistake. After this happens, don’t spend any more time thinking about it – just move on.
You Can Be Indecisive
Many novice negotiators believe that every time that they open their mouth, they need to say something that will very clearly move the negotiations forward. It turns out that once again, this is not the case. We’d all like to think about ourselves as being sharp business people who always know what we want. We’d like to have the ability to fire off correct decisions within seconds of being asked a question. However, it turns out that once again we really don’t have to be able to do this.
Instead, we have permission during a negotiation to be indecisive. This can show up in a number of different ways. We can put off decisions until later on. We are allowed to hem and haw as we struggle with decisions. You always have the right to say “I don’t know”. This can be a powerful tactic that you use to wear the other side down to a point where they’ll agree to just about anything just to avoid hearing you say “I don’t know” one more time!
You Can Ask Questions With No Answers
When we are involved in a negotiation, a great deal of the information that we’d like to have is in the brains of the other side of the table. What we’d like more than anything else in the world would be to get them to answer some key questions for us about what they want from the negotiations and how they plan on going about getting it. Now, in all honesty, they really should never answer questions like these because it would give too much information away to us.
However, this is where things start to get interesting. It never hurts to ask the other side questions that you know that they should never answer. The reason that we do this is because, every once in a while, they actually do answer one of these questions. When that happens then all of a sudden we end up with a great deal more information about how they are going to approach this negotiation than we had at the start of the negotiations. This is truly a case where you don’t have anything to lose so why not go ahead and ask the other side questions that you don’t think that they’ll answer.
What All Of This Means For You
It turns out that as negotiators we don’t just have to be knocked around by every principled negotiation that we participate in. We do have rights as a negotiator. However, you need to know what your rights are so that you can know where to draw the line in a negotiation.
The first thing that you need to realize is that it is ok for you to be wrong sometimes. When this happens, you just need to own it, pick up the phone and call the other side. Admit that you were wrong, get it corrected, and then move on. You also have the right to be indecisive. As much as we would all like to be very determined about everything, sometimes it can play into our hands to hesitate, be indecisive, and say “I don’t’ know”. We are also allowed to ask the other side questions that we know that they really should never answer. Everyone once-in-a-while they may surprise us and answer one of these questions. This can provide us with a great deal of information.
Knowing that you have a bill of rights can make the task of negotiating that much easier. You don’t always have to be right about everything all the time. Just knowing that this is ok can take a great deal of the stress of a negotiation off of your shoulders. The next time that you negotiate, go in with a good knowledge of just exactly what your bill of rights is!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: When you discover that you were wrong, how quickly do you think that you have to let the other side know about your mistake?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As negotiators, we tend to spend our time thinking about what we are going to want to accomplish during our next negotiation. We’ll think about the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that we are going to use, how the other side might react, etc. However, one of the things that we generally don’t spend any time thinking about is the very thing that we should be thinking about: just exactly what are we going to be permitted to do during the negotiation?