There are times in all our lives when we need to negotiate. Whether it’s for a salary, an important investment deal or a contract with suppliers, understanding how to negotiate effectively is key to getting on in business. If you’re looking for some helpful tips, then here are eight things you should never do when negotiating.

Be Unprepared

You should always make sure that you’re well prepared before an important meeting. If you walk in and appear calm and confident about the process, then the other side will be more open to your ideas. Being unprepared for the negotiation process shows that you’re unprofessional and don’t know what you’re talking about. This can provide them with an advantage and you won’t achieve the best result for your business.

Limit Your Choices

When you’re preparing for the meeting, don’t allow yourself to have a fixed outcome in mind. If you are too focused on a specific picture, then you’ll end up leaving the process disappointed. Instead, you should have a general idea of which way you want the process to go. The whole point of a negotiation is to allow ideas and outcomes to develop as the conversation progresses. In order for the eventual outcome to work for both parties, you need a number of options that can then be discussed to find the most suitable one for everyone involved.

Start the Ball Rolling

At the beginning of the negotiations, never be the one to quote a figure or time frame first. Always leave it to the other side to show their hand early, as this will provide you with a huge advantage. If you’re the first one to speak, then you’ll lose the element of surprise and they’ll know exactly what you’re thinking. However, if you force them to go first, then this will help you to develop your strategy for the rest of the negotiations. If necessary, you can then try to steer the conversation towards a different outcome that will favor your interests.

Don’t Listen

Negotiations are a two-way conversation and choosing not to listen to the other party could have disastrous results. A willingness to listen to their arguments shows that you understand the rules of business and are open to compromise. The idea of negotiating is to achieve a result that has value for both sides and this can’t happen if you’re not going to be listening.

Not an Argument

One thing that a negotiation shouldn’t turn into is an argument. If it starts to feel as if it is, then you’re doing it wrong. The conversation should appear as a normal discussion between business colleagues, where there are no real winners or losers. The outcome of the negotiation should bring value to both parties and not leave either side feeling bitter. This process is a way of establishing respect and building long-lasting relationships, which can’t happen if you spend the whole time arguing.

Say the Wrong Things

You need to pay attention to exactly what phrases you’re using during the process, as they could take the conversation in the wrong direction. For instance, if you use the phrase ‘between’ when discussing money or time options you could end up losing out. Giving a customer a choice of prices will undoubtedly lead them towards the cheaper one and if you provide a supplier with a lead time between two points then they will always opt for the later deadline.

Push Too Hard

Negotiation isn’t just about getting what you want; it’s also about working successfully with another person or business. If you continue to push for a specific outcome, then they might feel as if they’re being forced into a corner and have no other alternatives. If this happens and they don’t agree with what you want, then they could walk away from the entire process. A successful negotiation is all about establishing both parties’ points of view and working to resolve the situation so that everyone gets something out of it.

Be the One to End It

Make sure you don’t appear too eager to bring the negotiations to a close and always aim for the other party to try and finalize a deal. If you indicate that you’re close to making a deal, then they may seek further concessions as you’ll appear desperate. Unless there are very strict time constraints, always push them to end the process. Otherwise it shows that you simply want to get the discussions over with and are not really interested in the outcome. This could leave you losing out in the final negotiations. The negotiation process is effectively a two-way street. Within the business world, everyone has to learn to compromise and leave the process with a solution that works for all parties. Once you’ve learnt the dos and don’ts you’ll become a much more effective negotiator.

This guest post was contributed by The Gap Partnership; a negotiation company specialising in commercial and business negotiation, skills training, consulting, strategy and planning.