Ten Common Negotiation Mistakes

Civil Negotiation and Mediation by Nancy Hudgins

Harvard Business School Professors Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman wrote one of my favorite negotiation books: Negotiation Genius. There are many powerful negotiation strategies in this book. They also point out seven common mistakes that negotiators make:

“1. You made the first offer when you were not in a strong position to do so.

2. You made a first offer that was not sufficiently aggressive.

3. You talked but did not listen.

4. You tried to influence the other party but did not try to learn from them.

5. You did not challenge your assumptions about the other party.

6. You miscalculated the ZOPA (zone of possible agreement) and did not re-evaluate it during the negotiation.

7. You made greater concessions than the other party did.”

Three additional mistakes I’ve seen as a mediator are:

8. You did not prepare sufficiently for the mediation, so you didn’t have all the information you needed to settle the case.

9. You did not prepare a concession strategy.

10. You let your emotions dictate your moves, so that you were reactive instead of proactive.

It’s an interesting list. The mistakes cover every phase of a negotiation, from insufficient preparation, to where to start the negotiation, to information gathering, to inflexibility, to concession strategies, to emotion (the elephant in the room). As a lawyer, I’ve made all of these mistakes at one time or another. You can improve your mediated outcomes and mediation skills by avoiding these mistakes.

What would you add to this list?

                        author

Nancy Hudgins

Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class… MORE >

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