A friend is looking for a supplier, and I referred their company to another company through a friend of mine. Making connections, eh?
Things went pretty well initially, but throughout the negotiation process, misunderstanding built up, and both parties began to distrust each other.
There are differences between both sides of this deal, and that's why negotiation takes place. After talking to both sides, I resolved some of the misunderstandings and brought both parties back to the negotiation table.
I learned that in any negotiations, there are one thing we should always "assume" and another thing that we should "never assume."
Always assume the other part comes with good intention unless proven otherwise. Even for the "otherwise" case, negotiation is always about getting a positive outcome for yourself, so we can walk away once we recognize malicious intention. But giving the other party the benefit of the doubt builds goodwill in most cases and will lead to a good partnership. Even if the current deal failed, keeping a good relationship would benefit future deals with different circumstances.
Never assume that the other party shares the same "common sense." In negotiation, the counterparty may come from a very different culture. And even in the same culture, some people have very different expectations. We sometimes may take granted the basic assumptions of the fundamentals, and that could lead to misunderstanding. Don't worry about sounding a little bit tedious at first. Having the boundaries and ground rules laid down initially, focusing on negotiating the most important terms will make the process more pleasant.