How to Improve Your Negotiating Skills

Avoid these pitfalls to close the deal.

When negotiating a deal, don't let yourself get caught up in the other side's tricky talk. Here are some examples of what to watch out for:

  • Unidentified sources-if your opponent can't identify the source, ignore it.
  • Citing authority-investigate their backgrounds; and remember, you can always find an equal and opposite authority.
  • Analogies-they don't prove a thing, so challenge them or counter with your own.
  • Overgeneralizations-make sure your opponent isn't using one isolated fact to support a sweeping conclusion.
  • Unidentified terms and fuzzy language-pin down those words that can be interpreted however the other side wants to, and get them to commit.
  • Ad hominem arguments-don't let them get you down; such personal attacks should only alert you to your opponent's lack of solid, rational arguments.
  • Funny money-watch out for repetitive charges and small increments that can multiply over the entire deal.
  • Profit definitions-calculating the actual numbers can take on surprising new meanings once the cold hard facts are identified.

Excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine, July 2001

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