1. Approaching negotiation as a war where whoever haggles the most “wins.”

A better approach: The true winner in a negotiation leaves all members in a “win- win-win” scenario. Haggling assumes that there is no room for cooperation and ends in a win-lose or lose-lose scenario; negotiation assumes that collaboration is possible and that everyone’s interests can be satisfied. The most important thing you can do in a negotiation is to find out each party’s interests and then work toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

2. The “if they get more, I get less, or vice versa” assumption.

A better approach: Discover the underlying interest of each party and don’t assume it is always like dividing a pie. Often a “win-win-win” outcome is available. For example: two sibling farmers are fighting over a piece of inherited land; how should they divide the land? Assumably in half (50% each). But after discovering that one wants to plant soybeans and the other corn, both were able to use the entire land (100%), thus increasing their productivity (win-win). You see, when planted together, beans and corn provide the soil with essential nutrients the other crop needs and reduces the need for pesticide. This solution provided a win-win for the brothers, and also enhanced the environment, becoming a win-win-win negotiation.

3. Coming to the negotiation table with a fixed position as opposed to a collaborative mindset.

A better approach: One of the laws of Enlightened Negotiation is the Law of Flexibility. The best way to approach a negotiation is with an open mind. In a journey from New York to Los Angeles, for example, if we insist on taking only one particular flight that stops in Chicago, offered by only one airline on one particular day, an ice storm in the midwest could easily block us from getting to our destination. Keeping our options fluid, such as being willing to grab a flight that stops in Atlanta and San Antonio instead, gives us a chance to flow around impediments.

4. The belief that speaking first weakens your position.

A better approach: In most cases, there are very good reasons to speak first. You gain the opportunity to set the tone and focus of the meeting on your own terms, and to capitalize on the power of tools called anchoring and priming. Anchoring is simply the initiation of the negotiation process by giving the starting point for a negotiation. Priming allows you to set the tone of the negotiation by influencing the energy with thoughts of equity, fairness, and mutual benefit.

5. Believing that a dominant tone or body language equates to achieving a better deal and making fewer concessions.

A better approach: A dominant tone or body language is not appropriate for a negotiation for many reasons. For one, when you exhibit dominance, the other party will either do the same or become closed off and protective. Studies show that when in a “fight-or-flight” mindset, adrenaline inhibits cognitive performance, therefore prohibiting parties’ creativity and ability to collaborate. All of this energy wasted on projecting domination or on protectioncould be used for creative collaboration.