Devoting time to learning good negotiation skills is essential if you want to succeed, but it’s equally important to learn what not to do at the negotiation table. Not only will you understand which bad negotiation tactics to avoid but you’ll also become more adept at recognising and countering them.
Bad Negotiation Tactics: What Not to Do in a Negotiation
For some, negotiation is a dirty word – years of hard-bargaining strategies, such as the “good guy, bad guy” negotiation tactics favoured by Hollywood, have given deal-making a bad rep. In reality, negotiation is rarely a “win-lose” situation. The most successful negotiations come about through an understanding of one another’s needs, close collaboration, and of course, trust.
Undue pressure, threats and other bad negotiation tactics have no place at the negotiation table. However, you’ll undoubtedly come across a counterpart who tries to pull one of these strategies out of the bag to get the upper hand. Learning to spot bad negotiation examples gives you more control, so in this article, we’ll run through some of the most common concerns.
Making Extreme Demands or Offers
Dealmakers who throw out outrageous offers do so for two reasons. It protects them from resorting to compromise too early in the process and can serve as a shock tactic, which may cause the other party to question why their own demands are so far off the mark.
This example of bad negotiation drags out the proceedings, wasting everyone’s time and money. Walking into the negotiation with a clear idea of your own goals and your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) arms you with everything you need to stand your ground and make informed, rational decisions.
Failing to Listen or Understand the Other Party's Interests
If your sole objective is to tell the other party your list of demands, then chances are you’ll miss something critical to the deal. Failing to actively listen and understand the other party’s goals can make the other party feel slighted and you may struggle to reach common ground. You may even end up on a blacklist of bad faith negotiation examples, as you’re sending a non-verbal signal that you have no intention of working together to reach a solution.
The Importance of Active Listening and Empathy in Negotiation
Active listening and empathy often form part of the 101 of business negotiation training, as these skills help you to build rapport. To achieve a mutually-beneficial outcome, you’ll need to understand and digest what the other party is asking for – without judgement or overlaying your own perspective. Only by grasping what’s at stake for the other party can you effectively assess what you may or may not be prepared to compromise and where your BATNA comes into play.
Being Overly Aggressive or Hostile
As tempting as it is to go in all guns blazing, it’s not the most effective way to build a long-term relationship with your counterpart. There are many examples of bad negotiation tactics that fall under the umbrella of overly-aggressive or hostile pressure strategies.
- Deadlines, real or artificial, create a sense of urgency and are designed to make the other party give in to concessions quickly.
- Threats and insults aim to make the counterparty feel vulnerable, feeding on their insecurities and weakening their position.
- Good guy, bad guy negotiation tactics are employed to force the counterpart to make concessions fast. The “bad guy” makes excessive or aggressive demands, while the “good guy” appears more agreeable and compromising. In reality, they’re both out to achieve the same goals.
Recognising when the other party is engaging in aggressive tactics will help relieve the pressure. If you don’t react the way they expect, then you’re well on the way to diffusing the situation.
The Risks of Burning Bridges in Negotiation
Adopting an overly aggressive stance or negotiating in bad faith won’t win you any favours and puts you at risk of burning bridges with your counterpart. Who wants to work with someone who doesn’t follow through or is focused only on themselves?
Refusing to fall back on bad negotiation tactics is the best defence against burning bridges, as you’ll be viewed as a trustworthy and open individual or company that others will want to work with again.
Lacking Preparation or Alternatives
In our eagerness to seal the deal, sometimes we forget that not all negotiations will result in a signed contract, and we fail to adequately prepare alternatives. Failing to understand your BATNA before embarking on a negotiation can be detrimental, as you won’t know where to draw your line in the sand. Consider your alternatives long before you start discussions with the other party.
Entering a Negotiation Without Adequate Information or Leverage
Experienced negotiators know that information is power, and hence, we’ll collect all the information and leverage we need to strengthen our position. Don’t forget that it’s also necessary to know your counterpart, what makes them tick and what they want to achieve. Entering a negotiation without this understanding can make it challenging to find a mutual agreement.
How to Avoid Bad Negotiation Tactics and Achieve Win-Win Outcomes
The first step for any successful negotiation is preparation – know your needs, your counterpart’s goals, your strengths, and weaknesses, and have a backup plan up your sleeve. A big part of your preparation should be learning the signs of bad negotiation tactics and having the confidence to counteract them to achieve a win-win for everyone.