Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Mistakes By Experienced Negotiators

  • Selective information-sharing.
  • Rank-ordering priorities.
  • Everything on the table.
  • Summarize to test understanding.


Face-off: Mistakes By Experienced Negotiators

The world is divided into two groups, people who think that they're great negotiators and people who don't. Unfortunately, even the best negotiators can often make mistakes. So whether you're a rookie or a pro, this column should give you new insight about the most common mistakes of experienced negotiators. Which reminds me of Tim Blackburn, who fell off a ladder in England in 2007. According to the News of the Weird, Blackburn shattered his arm so badly that doctors had to remove four inches of bone and build a metal scaffold around it that took six years to completely heal. One day after doctors said his arm had totally healed he tripped and his arm "snapped like a twig." Ouch.

Even the most experienced negotiators can trip and suffer a nasty fall during a negotiation. Adam Grant is a negotiation expert and the author of "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success" who offered the following four mistakes that we should all try to avoid.

Selective information-sharing. If there is one phrase that is on the tip of the tongue for most of us during a negotiation it would probably be "keep your cards close to your chest." Grant doesn't suggest that you give away trade secrets, but he does recommend that you get to know the person you'll be negotiating with by sharing some basic information with them. He references a study where deals were reached 40% of the time with no information sharing but when people shared basic information about each other the success rate went up to almost 60%.

Rank-ordering priorities. Back to those cards jammed up against our chests, turns out that research shows that it is very important for the people on the other side of the table to know what your priorities are and for you to know theirs. When both sides know what's important to the other side, it's possible to do trade-offs that allow for a better solution. Which allows everyone to win on the issues that are most important to them.

Everything on the table. Most people believe that a negotiation is best when you approach it like my nine year old daughter Frankie approaches her dinner, she eats each item on her plate sequentially. This same approach of tackling each issue sequentially before you move on to the next one is twice as popular with inexperienced negotiators. However, having everything on the table and open for discussion increases the options for making trade-offs and improves outcomes.

Summarize to test understanding. There is an old speakers rule, "Tell them what you'll tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them." This is a good rule to remember when negotiating because you want to continually be sure that both sides are on the same page. So it's important to continually test everyone's understanding of the topics involved.

Follow these strategies and you won't have to break any arms in your next negotiation and you'll reach better outcomes for all.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via


Thought of the Week

"The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way."

–Henry Boyle

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from George Mason and Temple University

    Negotiation Strategies That Work: And That Don't

    • Most effective strategies: Collaborating and Competing strategies
    • Least effective strategies: Avoiding, Accommodating and Compromising



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