Nobody wants a negotiation to fail or a business deal to fall apart, but sometimes despite even the best efforts, it does happen. There are a number of reasons why a business deal might go bad. Understanding the reasons negotiations fail may help a negotiator to avoid common pitfalls. Typical causes of negotiation failure include fear of risk, lack of trust, poor planning and failure to listen. Through negotiation and influence training, you can reduce these effects.
Fear of Risk
Every negotiation involves an element of risk. This, along with uncertainty about overall outcomes can cause fear. Worry over the possibility of missing out on a better deal or of leaving something on the table is just one way fear can halt a negotiation in its tracks. Since the outcomes of some negotiations have the potential to be life-altering, people may wish to avoid risk and derail the negotiation process as a result. It is important to recognize and acknowledge this risk, however.
Lack of Trust
Fear can also manifest itself as a lack of trust between the parties involved in a negotiation. If one party doesn’t trust the other, or trust the negotiator, it makes it difficult for parties to agree on terms. It can also make parties unwilling to discuss them at all. It is important to build rapport and develop trust between parties to facilitate a successful negotiation.
Entering a negotiation without preparation is risking defeat or a less than optimal negotiation result. A good negotiator needs to be prepared for all potential objections, questions and offers, whether the offer is acceptable or not. A negotiator with inaccurate or incomplete information, or who expects to rely solely on intuition, will likely end up with poor results. The negotiator may be forced to accept steeper concessions, if any agreement can be reached at all.
Failure to Listen
If you aren’t able to clearly identify each party’s priorities, you’ll likely be unable to devise an outcome that can be agreed upon by all. It is important to listen and identify both individual priorities as well as any shared priorities between parties. If parties seem unable to agree, it is vital that the negotiator takes a step back and determines the heart of the disagreement. Focus on a preferred outcome instead of simply reiterating starting positions. Listening to what both parties want and identifying a clear way to reach these preferred outcomes can help put a stalled negotiation swiftly back on track.