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Five common business negotiation mistakesPosted: August 7, 2012

Savage Management’s Negotiator’s Notebook

By David Savage

The Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Business School released a report ‘Five common business negotiation mistakes.’ These mistakes are:

Mistake #1:         Viewing negotiation as a fixed pie.

Mistake #2:         Overvaluing your assets.

Mistake #3:         Going on a power trip.

Mistake #4:         Not knowing what you really want.

Mistake #5:         Binding you too tightly to a deal.

Consider your own experience. Do these top five resonate with you? Where do you see it most often? And with whom? Beware of our tendency to blame others for these negotiation mistakes.

By owning our tendencies and actions, we can develop our negotiation mastery. So let’s turn these mistakes into opportunities.  Take your own notebook and;

Viewing negotiation as a fixed pie. Identify opportunities to expand the pie of resources. This includes looking beyond the specific immediate needs for the deal. How may both parties be better served by building the deal to capture more present and future value and opportunity? Can I see the forest for the trees?  What is an example of how you did this in the past? Set your intention for current and future negotiations to expand the size of the pie rather than cut up the obvious one.

Overvaluing your assets. Take steps to ensure you don’t overvalue your assets.  What is the true worth? What would an independent evaluator say? How would your company value it if you didn’t already own it? Consider an example of how you ensured you had a realistic value for your assets in the past. What is your intention for current and future negotiations?  How can you check in with your team/ management to test your asset values? Are you applying the same metrics to the other party’s assets as you are your own?

Going on a power trip. Guard against a backlash from less powerful parties. This backlash includes getting stuck, backing out, reneging on the deal or setting a trap for you. When you know you have the upper hand, do you make a low ball offer? What else might you consider? What are the terms that will ensure the other party follows through on their commitments? Consider an example of how you did this in the past. What is your intention for current and future negotiations to guard against a backlash?

Not knowing what you really want. Gain a keener understanding of what you really want. This is similar to the size of the pie and it is different. What is the bigger picture for you and your organization? What deal aligns with your values, interests and vision for the future? How may you check alignment? Consider an example of how you did this in the past. What is your intention for current and future negotiations?

Binding yourself too tightly to a deal. Avoid being hurt by over commitment to a deal. Is there no way out for you while there is for the other party? What are the consequences for non- performance for both sides? What is your best alternative to a negotiated agreement? What is your worst alternative? Do you pursue more than one negotiation with more than one party on this asset or opportunity? How can you make certain that you are acting ethically while protecting your organization from being “left at the altar”? Consider an example of how you did this in the past. What is your intention for current and future negotiations?

To hold the new intentions and assist you in incorporating them into your current and future negotiations, create a page that you print these intentions out and frame it, create a Wordle, a post it note, a sentence on your screen saver, send me an email and/ or create any reminder to yourself to hold these intentions.

Don’t make the top five common business negotiation mistakes. You will be more successful with this awareness and this intention. And, overall, envision a future article on The BC Kootenay’s Top Five Business Negotiators with you on the list.

Article by the Kootenay’s own David B. Savage BA(Econ), P.Land, ACC

I work with professionals and organizations developing their business, negotiatio and their leadership strength.

www.savagemanage.com  [email protected]  All rights reserved 2012

David B. Savage, BA (Econ), P. Land, ACC, President of Savage Management Ltd. (www.savagemanage.com) works with professionals and organizations developing their negotiation mastery and leadership strength. Savage gathers diverse perspectives together to realize breakthrough possibilities. Savage’s services include leadership collaboratives, Negotiation Mastery Circles, community engagement, organizational development, executive coaching and business consulting. Since 2000, Savage has co-founded the Kootenay Leadership Institute, the Global Negotiation Insight Institute, Beyond Yes, Synergy Alberta and the Professional Enneagram  Association of Canada as well as six energy exploration firms. Savage Management serves clients around the world while living in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada

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