Learn From Your Failures to Improve Your Negotiations 


Sometimes when you attempt to take a collaborative approach to negotiation, the deal falls through. Failure is painful. You’re admitting that you screwed something up somewhere.

Failure is critical to learning, but no one wants to talk about it.

Simon Rycraft believes that ego is the #1 reason no one wants to talk about failure.

People don’t want to openly share and acknowledge their weaknesses. But doing so can build rapport in a negotiation. There are benefits to appreciating your failure, admitting failures openly, communicating them to others, and sharing how you learned from those failings.

How a single failure changed Simon’s process for the better

Everyone’s had hundreds if not thousands of failures throughout their lives. One that sticks out to Simon Rycraft was his role in a reverse auction to finalize a contract with numerous suppliers.

When the auction finished, Simon saw that the price had increased slightly from the prior deal. Obviously, the objective was for the cost to go down. He’d failed to reach his objective. What happened? He hadn’t done enough research on the price differential, nor did he set the correct parameters.

The benefit is that any deal that he’s done since then, he spends significant time preparing for. It was a small mistake that he learned over 20 years ago, and he changed his behavior moving forward.

Research and preparation are always necessary

Simon learned that he wasn’t invincible. He learned that the latest and greatest tools can still fail. Above all, he realized that you still need to strategize and prepare for any negotiation. The need to prepare doesn’t go away with experience.

You may get better at negotiating, but preparation is still necessary. The more experienced you are, the bigger the deals. The bigger the deals, the more research you need to do.

And when something goes wrong, it isn’t the end of the world, and you can turn it into a success. If Simon’s auction had gone the other way and Simon saved 5%, there are many positive experiences he might’ve missed out on.

Success is built on failure

Everyone’s successes are built on failures. You have to fail to succeed. All of the frameworks used in teaching were born and developed from years of trial and error. Professors and teachers don’t just come up with an amazing idea, write it down, and get published. They’ve written papers; they’ve made mistakes. They’ve built their frameworks on prior success and failures.

Failure has an overly negative connotation that needs to change. Society needs to start admitting that failures lead to success. Sit down and accept what you’ve failed at and what you’ve learned from it. Then acknowledge the failure.

Simon believes every contract he’s negotiated is significantly better because of the failures he’s experienced in the past. He removes his ego from the equation. When you don’t admit your failures, it’s a form of ego—and ego is the enemy of success.