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Dealing With Unskilled Negotiators

Tyler Hall

There is a misconception that when you are negotiating with someone who is not very skilled at the art of negotiation, you will get a better deal. In fact, it’s actually more difficult.

Why? When you’re engaged with a counterparty who has poor negotiating skills you’re likely to encounter:


Defaulting to “No”

Denial slows the process and is a missed opportunity to build value into a deal and continual denial will lead to a failed agreement or deadlock. Inflexibility in a negotiation will make it hard to move towards a resolution. Having more flexibility on multiple variables allows you to be creative in moving these around to be able to overcome obstacles and get to a great deal. Good negotiators are flexible and enablers.


Lack of Information

Often unskilled negotiators will not reveal a lot of information in fear that they may be taken advantage of by being too open. Because of this, we are left uncertain of what is important or difficult for them. We then have to make proposals that are based on assumptions and which are a shot in the dark to address the other party’s needs.

We not only see this in negotiating behaviour but process as well. Common in procurement RFP process, there is little consultation with potential vendors to be able to provide the best solution. Vendors are then often guessing what the customer is trying to achieve.

It’s therefore in your interest to disclose as much information as you can. This transparency will help build trust and they will be more likely to reciprocate with disclosure.


Weak Outcomes

The result of the previous traits of defaulting to ‘no’ and lack of information will likely lead to a poor outcome for them. Not necessarily for you. The danger here is even if you have done a good deal. They haven’t. The most important thing in a successful negotiation is not the negotiation itself but when the deal goes into implementation. If they feel they are not happy with the deal it will go into life poorly or fall over entirely. Try to highlight the benefits of being open and that you are coming from a mutual gain mindset to enable what they are after.


You’ve got to work harder with unskilled negotiators to achieve a mutual gain outcome.


Happy negotiating,


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