This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

You may know the parable about two monkeys and one banana that vividly illustrates the way negotiations usually play out. Being monkeys, they both want the banana. They struggle briefly and the banana gets ripped in two. One proceeds to peel his half of the banana and eat the skin, while the other throws away the peel and just eats the meat inside.

While we all like to think of ourselves as higher-order beings, the fact is we often approach negotiations as a struggle to get our fair share, ending up with a mere portion of what we could have had if we simply stopped grabbing and negotiated with trust. This is true whether we’re negotiating a deal worth millions or a new job assignment.

Negotiating differently starts by recognizing our own monkey-like mindsets and habits. Use the scale below to assign points for each of 10 negotiations pitfalls. See how many you get trapped by. Be really honest.

1 – Never 2 – Rarely Occasionally/ Sometimes 4 – Often 5 – Always
  1. I believe that “tipping my/our hand” is wrong.
  2. I give in to the temptation to hide or downplay any weaknesses or shortcomings on my/our side.
  3. I think in terms of sides to begin with.
  4. I play it safe by not asking courageous questions, not saying what I/we really want, or how I/we really feel.

[Tweet “Are you negotiating with #trust? This 10-point test can help answer: #getreal #trustedadvisor”]

  1. I look for common ground only at the surface level or in the short term.
  2. I give in to the pressure of the negotiation at hand, rather than imagining this interaction as one of many interactions over time.
  3. I don’t do enough preparation to clearly articulate why I/we want what I/we want.
  4. I spend most of my preparation time thinking, feeling, and deciding from my/our vantage point, rather than theirs.
  5. I aim to maintain control—of the agenda, the conversation, the outcome.
  6. I get stuck in the thinking that “no deal” is not an option.

Add your total points and see how you made out. Think golf not bowling: you want the lowest score possible. If you got a lot of 1’s and 2’s, congratulations; you’re probably in pretty good shape. If you scored 3 or higher on any question, consider pausing to revisit your mindset and approach. (Full disclosure: #4 is one of my downfalls.)

Remember, even if you’re generally successful at focusing on “win-win” solutions, there are many other impediments to trust-based negotiations. It’s the subtle aspects of it that can lead to mediocrity.

I know I’m not interested in settling for mediocrity and I bet you aren’t, either.

Make It Real

This week, choose a pitfall that got a low score and see if you can catch yourself in the act—at work, at home, in life. That’s it—just catch yourself. As they say, the first step is to admit you have a problem.

Learn More

Read more about negotiations and the short-term performance trap, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or brush up on how the trust principles apply to negotiations in Chapter 26 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).