We are constantly fed a myth soup about selling and negotiation. The importance of ‘win-win’ and making buyers happy is vastly overstated. Buyers don’t choose to go with your proposal because they like you. They choose to go with you because it is in their best interest to do so. Maybe they do like you, but that is beside the point!

You don’t have to be a psychologist - the mistakes we make are not that complex. You don’t have to be a poker player, either - the mistakes we make are not that subtle. And you don’t have to be Henry Kissinger - we are not negotiating world peace here.

The biggest sales blunders are simple: not asking for what you want and not sounding like you need it when you do. Attempting to be polite and amiable can confuse the message and often you don’t get what you need - only because you never specifically asked for it.

Just yesterday, I met my print supplier in a café and offered him a coffee. “I’m fine” he said. Then I asked: “Where shall we sit?” “I don’t mind,” came the reply. I think I know what he meant, but I would much prefer to hear something positive.

“I’m fine” meant ‘no thanks.’ Though maybe it meant ‘I’d rather have a herbal tea, but I don’t want to make a fuss.’ And “I don’t mind” meant ‘I have no preference.’ Or did it? Maybe it meant ‘I don’t want to express an opinion in case it’s not the same as yours.’

To avoid their own discomfort, sales people politely back away, leaving you guessing. Taking this tendency into businesses is at the root of why most people in our culture hate negotiating.

Have an opinion! We all find it refreshing. Be clear on what you want and ask for it without apologies and with self belief. Don’t use words that indicate you don’t need it. “I was looking for somewhere in the region of 20 to 25” breaks these rules. ‘Looking for’ doesn’t mean ‘need.’ See if you can spot the other two soft signals in that sentence.

Stop choking on that myth soup, and stop wanting buyers to like you - they will like you if you are giving them too much! Instead, want them to respect you. Be ambitious, be specific and be the person who says ‘I’m glad I asked,’ not ‘I wish I had asked.’