- Mismanagement of expectations
Imagine going to a pizza shop and then being told it only serves sushi; disappointment is likely. The same goes for negotiations. If expectations aren’t managed properly, disappointment or frustration may ensue from a misalignment of expectations and reality, and may result in a less-than-ideal outcome for one or all parties.
Properly managing expectations comes from preparation and flexibility. If a party has done its homework –including understanding past precedents and current alternatives—that party is much more likely to have realistic expectations for its encounters. In addition, acknowledging that things may not go as planned can lead to preparation of alternative and backup plans. These plans must lay out acceptance and walk-away scenarios prepared before negotiations begin.
- Unwillingness to empathize
It’s like watching someone go fishing and not realizing that some people may enjoy fishing. Often, people do not consider the other side’s points of view and cannot appreciate that the other side has different needs and desires, which have a big impact on how negotiations are approached.
By considering the other side’s goals, needs, and thought processes, a negotiator will be able to anticipate arguments the other party may make and consider alternatives that the other party may find appealing even before they meet. In addition, understanding and acknowledging the other side’s point of view may improve the rapport between the parties and can have a positive impact on long-term relationships.
- Lack of preparation
Have you ever gone to the grocery store without knowing what you already had at your house, only to end up getting more of things you don’t need and less of what you do? Going into any deal without a knowledge of the negotiation’s landscape and potential traps can be treacherous for a negotiator and inhibit proper management of expectations.
A negotiator should come in knowing what relevant precedents exist for the current negotiation, what alternatives may be available (or currently unavailable), and what curveballs may be thrown during the conversation. Preparation in the form of a checklist can be especially helpful as a visual representation of what the negotiator has done, is doing, and needs to do in order to fully prepare for the negotiation. This detailed preparation will make the negotiator more flexible, confident, and purposeful than coming in with only a vague idea of what to expect.