Common Mistakes: How Not to Approach a Negotiation

The following points are examples of tactics you should avoid when negotiating with another party:

  • Focus on the personality of the other side rather than the issues

    It can be very easy to personalize the situation. After all, you do not feel you were treated fairly. Even if you do not like the other side, approach the conversation with an open mind and listen carefully.

    You are negotiating in order to address a problem. You have no doubt speculated about why the other side acted as they did.

    The best advice you can give yourself is to put aside your dislike or strong feelings about the other side. Focus on the issues, not the person.

  • The “Right vs. Wrong” trap

    Don’t go into a negotiation with the mindset that you are completely right and the other person is completely wrong. Most disputes have some merit on both sides. Your job during a negotiation is to figure out if there is a fair compromise.

  • Attempting to win “no matter what”

    In a negotiation, your attitude matters. If you enter the negotiation with the intent to “win at all costs”, you are likely to fail. Try to find a solution where you each “win” something. Once you have the information on what all of this will cost (time and money), consider what you might give up to resolve it now. If your case is heard in small claims court, you will be in an informal setting where the judge will be more likely to consider a compromise solution.

  • Forgetting that negotiation is a process not an event

    Every contact with the other side is part of your negotiation. An angry phone call followed by an emotional letter will not help you when you finally sit down to talk. Each contact will influence whether the other side is willing to compromise.

A special project of the Eastern Shore Regional Library under a Library Services Technology Act grant from the Division of Library Development Services/MD State Department of Education (author: Ayn H. Crawley). Edited by Jessica Nhem.

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