Don’t Make These Common Negotiating Mistakes

Even the best negotiators can make mistakes. Make sure all of your careful preparation isn’t wasted at the table by avoiding these common traps:

  • Failing to listen. Spending hours or days preparing your argument will naturally make you want to share your interests, lay out options, and so forth. But when you get into the room, focus on listening and asking questions as much as (if not more than) presenting your case.

  • Sacrificing your interests to preserve the relationship. Deal with you and your counterpart's relationship separately. Any trust issues should be resolved before you move on to the substance of the negotiation.

  • Focusing on positions, not interests. It's easy to establish what you both want and then move quickly into the specifics of the agreement. But the two of you need to take time to understand the drivers behind your positions — or you won't be able to reach an agreement that satisfies both of you.

Adapted from HBR’s Guide to Negotiating by Jeff Weiss.

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