TRAP ONE: Answering questions wrongly. Responding to questions calls for knowing what not to say as well as what to say. Correct answers may not be good answers and may even be foolish under the circumstances.

Rules for good answers:

  • Take time to think.
  • Don’t answer unless you fully understand the question.
  • Stall on the basis of incomplete information.
  • Evade by answering a different question (the politicians’ favourite dodge).
  • Answer only part of the question.

Before negotiations begin, write down the most likely questions you’ll be asked or have an associate act as ‘devil’s advocate’ and put you through an interrogation wringer.

TRAP TWO: The other side reneges on the deal. This often happens right after a deal is made, and usually involves a sudden demand for a higher price or more concessions.
Best Defense: Anticipate such a move and plan for it by demanding written assurances against escalation, signed by so many high-level people they can’t escalate the terms.

TRAP THREE: The gap is too large to negotiate. Even if the difference seems huge, negotiation is always possible if the issue is sufficiently important. Extensive talks may be needed before the outcome is apparent. Don’t start off in a hostile manner because of the other side’s apparently unreasonable or extreme demands.

TRAP FOUR: Don’t misjudge the balance of power. Most people begin negotiations assuming the other side knows their weaknesses. This is wrong. They’re probably more afraid of your strengths than your weaknesses. Always begin negotiations under the assumption that you are dealing from strength but be ready to compromise if the other side shows they also know your weaknesses.