Why Your Negotiations Fail: Fear

Even though negotiation is a part of everyday life, one of the most common roadblocks to successful negotiation is fear. Negotiating can bring up a lot of fear, discomfort, and insecurity.

As we talk about the most common reasons why negotiations fail, fear is at the top of the list. There are many ways that fear sabotages successful negotiating.

Nerves can make you talk too much

  1. Fear of losing
  2. Fear of success
  3. Fear of the unknown
  4. Fear of looking bad / letting someone down
  6. The nerves that come from feeling outmatched can cause you to talk more than you ought. Have you ever been in a situation where you start babbling because you’re afraid, uncomfortable, or insufficiently experienced?

In negotiations, if you feel outmatched, afraid, or desperate, you may talk a lot. It’s a bad idea to let your tongue run away with you because you may give away too much information, not listen, and not leverage the power of silence.


Fears show up in many different ways. For some, fear is caused by the thought of losing. In other words, fear is caused by “needing to win.”

If this is your fear, remember, negotiation is not about losing (or winning). Negotiation is about achieving your objectives.


A less-talked-about problem is fear of success. Odd as it may seem, you could very well be afraid of succeeding. For example, you may have a subconscious belief that having money makes you change into someone evil. Despite having a great opportunity, you may feel an internal tension, caught between the desire to do well and the fear of doing well.

You may feel anxious from this fear and be unaware of where it’s coming from. You could even sabotage your success in negotiations because you’re afraid of exactly what you want to achieve.

So, what’s the solution? Do the deep work you need to do to identify your limiting beliefs and what might sabotage you in the negotiation. Then, when you feel the fear of success coming up (which might show up as resistance or judgment), take a step back and reconnect to why you are doing this, stay grounded, and reconnect to your purpose.


If you ask a million questions when you are in a negotiation, you may struggle with a fear of the unknown. When you can’t see what the future holds, you may feel uncomfortable and seek every possible bit of information possible.

To prevent that from happening to you, start by getting clear on what criteria you need for things to be in place after the deal. List them out. If you do the preparatory work needed to get clear with yourself and identify what really matters, then you can make sure that those points are satisfactorily addressed.

If you’re in this position, you may not even know what it would take to satisfy that fear. In Take the time to drill down to what you’re most concerned with. Do the work to distinguish exactly what your fear is and decide what action to take to get you comfortable enough to move forward.


Another fear that can derail your success in negotiation is the desire to not look bad. That can surface in lying about something, pumping up something, or giving into something you ought not to because you don’t want to look less than informed or out of control. This is fear is similar to wanting to be liked.

Many people also fear letting someone down, usually somebody who is not in the room. That could be anyone from a boss or a partner, or a father or mother. If that’s a real worry for you, do the advance work to rid yourself of that load. Make sure to identify your objectives, not those of someone you are trying to avoid letting down or any other external influence, expectation, or paradigm.

Do you carry fear into your negotiations? Which of the 5 ways fear can show up do you relate to most? How can your objectives help diminish these fears?

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator, and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author, and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, deal-maker, and business consultant with more than 35 years of professional negotiating experience as a successful entrepreneur and attorney.


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