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Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Negotiation Myths — 10 Misconceptions People Believed

Key takeaways

  • Negotiation myths are made-up stories and false beliefs about negotiations.
  • Generally, common negotiation myths often intimidate new negotiators.
  • Common negotiation myths misunderstand the process as a win-lose scenario, ignoring the potential for mutually beneficial agreements.

Have you heard of negotiation myths? It’s the same as any other myth that you’ve heard when you were a kid, but this time, it’s more centered on negotiations. 

The problem with negotiation myths is that people tend to believe in them more than facts. It’s either because facts are too boring while myths are exciting.

For this article, we are going to talk about negotiation myths that most people believe in. It’s time to prove that these myths are unproven and should be countered with pure facts.

By the end of this article, most people are either going to be grateful to you for exposing those myths or they’re going to get angry at you for exposing their fun.

Why do Negotiation myths Exist?

Now isn’t that a good question?

Negotiations are often hard. It is very difficult to try and attempt to convince other people to agree to something that you’re trying to get a deal on. Try getting a person that’s difficult to negotiate with to agree with you; you are most likely going to try and do just about EVERYTHING to get them to agree. 

This is just one of the many reasons why negotiation myths exist. Because it’s so easy to come up with so many stories to get people to believe in whatever they want. Myths and misconceptions are a part of our human culture. 

We revel too much in the unknown that we always tend to misinterpret common issues and facts and that often leads from one myth to the other. Well, the only thing you’re getting from believing these myths is a negotiation where you’ll have to walk away.

The 10 Most Common Negotiation Mythsthat People Believe

Now that we’re done talking about why negotiation myths still exist, it’s time to break down the most common negotiation myths that people believe. Have a look at the following negotiation myths and determine if you’ve encountered any of them! If you find yourself believing any of these myths, search for our Negotiation Course For Procurement Professionals, enroll, and learn about the most modern negotiation techniques.

1. People are Born Great Negotiators 

Well, if this were true, then there’d be no need for negotiation books, right? But there are thousands of them and each year, these books are revised by someone else or an entirely new series is introduced. This can only lead to one thing; people are not born as great negotiators. Human beings are just far too complex; we might be easy to read on one aspect of our lives, it won’t be the same with another.

The ability to negotiate without problems takes months, years even. And even if you did take the most advanced negotiation classes on earth, there is still a chance that you will not get what you want. While skills are important, there is also the emotional factor. You certainly need guts and intelligence to be able to negotiate like a pro. And those are things that most humans are not built with automatically.

2. Nice Negotiators Finish Last

Another popular myth among negotiators is the fact that the nice negotiators are the ones who get left behind. To become the best negotiator, you have to be aggressive and mean. People often picture negotiators as people who are always hounding on other people to get what they want. Well, this myth is untrue.

There are many ways to negotiate and close a good or bad deal is all based on the circumstances for both parties. The accommodation negotiation style is one such style where the negotiator is particularly sensitive towards the other party. In short, it’s the Mr.Nice Guy type of negotiation. And if in case two parties really can’t come to a common understanding, in the end, concessions can be made. Again, acting the opposite to the hardball approach is not at all a bad tactic to apply in your negotiations. 

3. Someone Always Loses in Negotiation

Again, this is false. During negotiations, when two parties really can’t come to a common ground, there are always other ways for both parties to get something in the middle. This is usually in the form of concessions. If this myth were true, then some of the most controversial negotiations in history may have ended differently. Like the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

While your goal during a negotiation is to find a way to get the deal that you want, there are considerations to check. If the other party happens to be a company that you’d want to establish relations with in the future, then you want to give them a concession or two first so that they’ll feel grateful enough to give you a pass in the future. 

4. Negotiators Rely Solely on Intuition

As we often tell each other here in Procurement Tactics, we negotiate as part human beings and part machines. Just negotiating simply on intuition, without any form of preparation, is like walking inside a burning building drenched in gasoline. It’s a pure gamble that is bound to have serious consequences.

A professional negotiator is someone who walks in with all types of scenarios already written down in his/her head. He/She is the man/woman with the plan. Before the negotiations can start, a seasoned negotiator should already have disposed of every available resource he/she has to come up with information about the negotiations and the parties who are going to attend. Only with data can he/she come up with offers, counter-offers, and concessions should there be a need to raise one.

5. Negotiation Skills Can’t Be Learned; it’s either you have it or you don’t.

Okay, this is the most ridiculous myth out of the ten.

It is so ridiculous because it undermines the human capacity to think, learn and adapt. While it is true that not all people are born to be great negotiators, that is only due to one part of their personality. The other part has something to do with knowledge. People can learn and be trained to become the best negotiators in the world.

Even the best negotiators out there didn’t become successful until later in their careers. They too have their brush-ins with failure multiple times. Negotiations can be a tricky subject, but it is something that can be learned through perseverance, knowledge, and thousands of hours of practice!

6. Negotiating is easy. You can negotiate ahead without preparation as long as you know what’s being talked about

This is a very fatalistic approach towards negotiations because you are walking right into a trap. Negotiating without preparation is like you going to war without a weapon in hand. You need to be prepared to be able to tackle negotiations. How are you going to defend yourself against offers and counter-offers if you don’t have a clue as to what the other party is negotiating for?

7. When it comes to negotiation, you go directly to the point.

Nothing ruins a good negotiation like a negotiator who goes directly to the point of the matter. No, we’re not saying that being direct is a problem, but directly diving into the negotiation point is a surefire way to get yourself alienated by the other party. And once that happens, no one is going to listen to what you have to say. To be open about what you want is always a good idea, but don’t always rush it: if there is nothing to give away later in the negotiation, it will be harder to achieve your goal. 

8. To win a negotiation, all you do is push towards what you want. There is no room for give-and-take situations.

The rule of giving and taking concessions is a must during negotiations. To not break down negotiations after a lengthy and difficult discussion, a concession is always shown to give both parties a break. This break can be used to meet another time for re-negotiation or for thinking of other offers that can be brought to the table. If you don’t like the idea, then you are going to get a walk-away every single time.

9. During negotiations, winning is all that matters. Cultural backgrounds can be disregarded.

If you’re trying to become a world-class negotiator but you fail to understand cultural backgrounds, then you need some re-education. Cultural backgrounds play an important part in negotiations because many negotiation styles are incorporated with pieces of cultural background. For more info on the impact of culture on negotiations, see our article

10. When negotiating, it’s okay to be angry. Emotions are an integral part of negotiations.

Ah yes, the most common negotiation myth of all. We often see this in some movies, right? It’s always a wrong idea to mix in too many emotions while negotiating. You will most likely see yourself screaming, crying, or even flat-out walking away from a negotiation even if there’s no reason to. It’s a general rule to keep your emotions in check during negotiations. Always keep a cool head, but be passionate when delivering your offer or if you need to stir up the other party to take action or make a decision. In short, the key to negotiating effectively is to use your emotions at a moderate pace.


Now isn’t that a good question? Negotiations are hard, but it’s not difficult all the time, as opposed to the myths and misconceptions present.

For example, there’s no need to be aggressive and mean when you’re a negotiator because there are many ways to negotiate and close deals. In addition, there isn’t any “loser” or “winner” in negotiations. Rather, what happens when the two parties cannot come to a common ground, there are ways that they find just for both to get something in the middle.

Moreover, there are still so many negotiation myths out there that you should look out for. When you’re not vigilant enough to spot these, you’ll surely be intimated by negotiations and negotiators, and that’s one thing you should avoid.

Frequentlyasked questions

What are negotiation myths?

Negotiation myths are made-up stories and beliefs about negotiations.

How can you stop negotiation myths?

You can stop negotiation myths by giving accurate information on what negotiation is.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics