16 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Negotiating

When you’re negotiating a deal, a misinterpreted tone or poorly chosen words could ruin an otherwise successful conversation. Sometimes you may not know even which phrases might turn a deal sour. That’s why we asked 16 members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:

Business is all about making the right deals, but it’s not always easy. What’s one thing you should never say while negotiating if you want to be successful? Why?

1. Your profit margin

One thing to be aware of when negotiating is your profit margin and how much of it you are willing to give up to secure the deal. Your prospective client shouldn’t be privy to this information and should only know the value your company is providing. —Lorne Fade, VR Vision Inc.

2. “You” statements

Speak from the “I,” never the “you.” In other words, don’t personally attack the person you are negotiating with. Put your ego aside and focus on the situation at hand. —Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

3. Assumption-based statements

Successful negotiations can be achieved by making a real connection and by both parties coming to an agreement about what they want and how to achieve it. Great negotiators are active listeners and don’t make assumptions. Assuming something about the other party can quickly kill a deal. —Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

4. Anything to fill an awkward silence

Silence is the overall key to getting deals done because it allows the other party the opportunity to give us information and allows us the opportunity to listen and find ways to remove doubt. Ask a qualifying question and patiently wait — don’t say anything. Ask for the sale, but avoid the tendency to fill the awkward silence. Get the sale? Stop there — don’t sell past the close. —Eric Mathews, Start Co.

5. Foul language

Never indulge in swearing or specific foul language. This applies even if the other party is swearing — you need to remain polite and courteous, while keeping your temper. When you surrender etiquette, you show that you don’t respect the other negotiator and that they have the emotional advantage over you. Don’t give them that power. —Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. “That’s our final offer”

In most cases, it’s not helpful to make absolute statements such as “that’s our final offer” or “that’s my bottom line.” Once you say that, you’ve boxed yourself into a corner where you either have to stick to your word or possibly break it. In my experience, negotiations often involve many stages and what may seem like a deal-breaker at one stage may become a more flexible point later on. —Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

7. “Never”

Always be respectful when negotiating and treat the person with equity. Practice kindness and deep listening to show you care about the situation at hand. Never say never with a business partner — listening to their needs is very important, and remaining flexible will assure your success. —Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow

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8. “If you don’t work with us . . .”

While it’s true there may be opportunities and value lost if someone doesn’t hire or partner with you, explicitly saying that sounds like a threat. Let your past work, experience, and accolades speak for themselves. —Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

9. “Could”

I think it’s a good idea to avoid the word “could” as much as possible. Although it is a basic English term, it has connotations relating to one’s ability. You could subtly and unknowingly end up questioning or criticizing the other party’s capabilities. Instead, try to use the word “would” whenever you want to make a request. It’s more polite and comes across as less judgmental. —Blair Williams, MemberPress

10. “Maybe”

Negotiations fail because of wavering ideas and people who don’t stand their ground. If you’re going to make a deal, you need to be confident about your offer and what you’re willing to accept. Leave words like “maybe” out of your vocabulary so you can present yourself as assured and confident in your decisions. —Jared Atchison, WPForms

11. “Between”

Avoid using the word “between” in your negotiations. Throwing in random, rounded up numbers will only leave you both confused about the final offer and upset about a lack of clarification. Don’t be afraid to use specific numbers and keywords when negotiating to get what you want. —Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

12. “Looks like we’re almost there”

A common tactic in negotiating business deals is stalling and prolonging the process. This can tempt you to utter this phrase. If you do, you’re basically saying to the other person that you’re giving up what you really want to get out of the deal in the interest of just getting it done. Avoid saying it. —Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

13. “Let’s worry about that later”

While there may be pressing topics to get to, be willing and ready to discuss anything of value during any sort of negotiation. This statement can lead the other party to wonder why you don’t want to address the specific topic, and generate doubt in the deal or partnership. —Jared Weitz, United Capital Inc.

14. “We need to decide now”

Don’t create time pressure to make a decision at that moment. When you lay down this pressure, it often pushes the other party further away, not closer to a decision. Practice patience, and if you are up against a time constraint, communicate the timeline in advance. That way, everyone has clarity on the demands. —Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

15. “Let’s meet halfway”

Never say, “Let’s meet halfway.” I’ve often said this while negotiating, and it would feel as if I had made a good deal, but I found out it’s often the other party that got a better deal because I was more agreeable. Instead, have a walkaway number and negotiate as if your life depended on it. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

16. “Yes” (until you have all the final details)

It is important to never say “yes” until every detail has been settled. It is critical that both parties have had ample time to go over every option, step away and think about it, listen to the other party, and make sure everything is clear. Allowing time to think before saying “yes” ensures both parties are able to sit down and make a mutually beneficial decision. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

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