Dr Matt Lohmeyer is a professional negotiator who offers negotiation master classes for entrepreneurs in Sydney. His firm, Negotiation Partners, works with such luminaries as BHP, Coles, and the Royal Australian Army.

In his years in the industry Mr Lohmeyer has learned that often negotiating effectively can be about what you don’t do as much as what you do.

In an interview with news.com.au he advised, “Know exactly where you can go and where you can’t, so you’re not bullied into a position where it’s not a good place for you.”

Hie went on to say that if a party is sitting across a table from you they are there because you have something they want. All you need to do is find out what that is and what they are prepared to pay for it

“Most of the time it is theatre,” said Dr Lohmeyer.

“Be aware of the power of your product; they want something from you, otherwise they’d walk out. Just make sure you get what it’s worth.”

Dr Lohmeyer then went on to recount the Seven deadly Sins of negotiation:

1. Opening with a ‘shock value’ demand: this is where the opening demand is unrealistically high. Novice negotiators will do this to give them something to negotiate back to. But to negotiators with some experience it will either be seen as rude, ridiculous, or ignorant.

2. Not recognising a good deal: Some negotiators will attempt to screw every last penny from their opponents, and this is a mistake. In any negotiation there is a point of diminishing returns. A point at which you begin to damage negotiations through greed.

3. Accepting the opening offer: Both sides will regret it if you do this. By accepting the opening offer you haven’t even tested the waters for a better deal. Likewise your opponents will be grateful to come to a better understanding of the product, its value, and you through ongoing negotiations.

4. Getting emotional in the deal: Emotions cloud rational judgement. There are two main dangers when it comes to emotions in negotiations – a) Becoming more invested in a deal the longer and harder you work on it; there may come a point at which the effort isn’t worth the outcome. b) Pre-selling a deal to your bosses; this places you in a vulnerable position: You are now effectively a middleman and responsible for the success of the deal to your bosses. Counterparties will use this vulnerability to pressure you for every concession they can.

5. Ignoring the signs to walk away: You must be prepared to negotiate and prepared to walk away when it becomes clear no acceptable deal is likely. This is a lot harder than it sounds as there is often corporate pressure to not ‘give in’. Negotiators use the acronym BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Be aware of your BATNA before you begin negotiations.

6. The fastest way to lose credibility is through Lying, bluffing,and making threats you either can’t or won’t carry out. Doing any of these loses you credibility and credibility is the currency of negotiators.

7. But arguably the worst of the seven Sins is simply not telling the other side what you want. Novice negotiators confuse being clear about what they want with giving away important information about their position. Yes, there often is information that needs to be held in reserve, but being frank about what you want allows both parties to work on the real issues and move towards a common benefit.

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