5 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Negotiating

June 18, 2019

by Nicole Soames

We all know what it’s like when you’re caught up in the middle of negotiating a big deal. The pressure and frustration can build and before you know it the best laid plans can go awry. Negotiation best practice flies out of the window and you hear yourself utter the fateful words, “And that’s my final offer” when you know full well that it’s not.

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, developing their negotiating skills and unlocking their confidence so they can negotiate successfully. But as well as highlighting the positive steps you need to take, I also look at the ways it can easily go wrong.

So, based on my years of experience building commercial athletes, here are the top 5 things you should NEVER say when you’re negotiating.

1. “Maybe we could meet in the middle”

The art of negotiation relies on confident language. Thinking out loud can mean you come across as undecided and unclear and this will undoubtedly weaken your negotiating position. If you are not fully prepared before the negotiation takes place, you can easily end up hedging your bets and starting to compromise from the onset. Preparation and confidence go hand in hand – you will take a much stronger stance if you know your win zone.

2. “I don’t agree”

If you argue with logic you are more likely than not to end up in deadlock. Saying you don’t agree will get you nowhere. You have to recognise that both of you have your own positions but at the same time understand that arguing is NOT negotiation. Take a step back and count to ten and remember Brain Koslow’s wise words: “During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave the personalities out of it, you will be able to see the opportunities more objectively.”

3. “Remember the benefits of the business are….”

One of the most common mistakes I notice during a negotiation is when people revert to selling mode. Overselling can weaken your negotiating position – always make sure you have finalised the selling process before you open the negotiations.

4. “That’s my final offer”

Whatever you do, try not to back yourself or others into a corner. Only say “And that’s my final offer” if you truly mean it and are prepared to follow through. Although it’s often very tempting to respond with this remark, if either party has their back against the wall, it’s unlikely you’ll arrive at a mutually satisfying conclusion.

5. “I’ll ask my boss”

The other absolute negotiating no-no is saying “I’ll talk to my Boss”. This not only undermines your own credibility, it also suggests you’re not joined up and aligned as a team which can allow the other side to force cracks.

So that sums up my list of the top five things you should never say when negotiating. What would be on your list of negotiating no-noes?


Nicole Soames is a coach and EQ practitioner with extensive experience gained from 12 years leveraging large sales teams for Unilever and United Biscuits, followed by 13 years spent developing and delivering training programmes across the globe. In 2009, Nicole founded Diadem, the leading commercial skills training and coaching company. With over 85 clients in more than 15 countries, Diadem has helped thousands of people become commercial athletes in negotiation, selling, influencing, account management, marketing, presenting, strategy, coaching, and leadership. Nicole is the author of The Influence Book: Practical Steps to Becoming a Strong Influencer.