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What Not to Wear When Going for a Negotiation

Follow these tips when dressing for a negotiation

We don’t usually get a second chance to make a good first impression, at least not in the business world anyway. People are analyzed from head to toe the moment they walk into a negotiation, so a presentable outfit becomes a chore we can’t ignore. Believe it or not, first impressions can make or break a deal; they help us make an idea of how skilled our competitors are and they can actually influence our personal opinions about the people with whom we’re negotiating.

Make a good first impression

Impressions are paramount in the business world. A properly-assembled outfit accessorized with a brand watch and gold cufflinks, is everything you need to blow away the competition. Prior to entering the negotiation table, you should have a better understanding of what types of clothes are not good for business.

Properly assembled business outfit with accessories
Well-chosen, properly assembled business outfit and carefully selected accessories will help you win over your negotiation counterpart

Flashy clothes

It’s ok to want to make an impression with a tailored suit and a discreet designer watch; however, an outfit that screams extravagance might not work to your benefit. A business individual must look presentable, but if his outfit is exaggerated he might influence a counterpart on a negative level. Flashy clothes make people look smug, overly-confident, and superior. Deep down, that might not be you at all, but an opponent’s first impression can easily compel them to walk away. It’s ok to want to wear an Armani suit and pair it with a Rolex, but don’t start bragging about how expensive your clothes are.

Messy clothes

Now that we talked about the importance of wearing luxury clothes with class, it’s time to turn our attention to negotiators fond of messy outfits. Nothing screams uncertainty more than an untidy outfit. Business negotiations are extremely visual; they will analyze your body language, your pronunciation, vocabulary, attitude, and ultimately, your outfit. As human beings we’re always more than meets the eye, yet in business what THEY see is what they get. Negotiators don’t want to bargain with counterparts who are not properly groomed because they will instantly assume they’re not responsible enough to abide by their rules and meet their demands in the long run.

Business clothes for negotiation
Flashy colours are usually a no-no wear for negotiation, but if you keep it neat and simple a pop of colour here and there is just fine

Dirty shoes

Whether you’re a male or female negotiator, there’s no doubt that picking the right type of shoe for a business negotiation is vital. How can you make a good impression if the first thing a partner sees when you talk into an office is a dirty pair of shoes? People wrongfully assume that if they wear a nice outfit and a good smile they can go unnoticed. Wrong! Your counterpart will use every single trick in the book to turn a negotiation in his favor; so if your shoes are dirty, he will most likely start picking on you, thus influencing your perception and making you feel insecure.

Tip: Skilled negotiators are extremely detail-oriented; if something’s wrong with your outfit, if something’s missing, if something’s misplaced, they will know.

A pair of men's black shoes
A smart choice of shoes is an inseparable part of dressing appropriately for business negotiations

Casual clothes – a big No-No

Sneakers, hoodies, jeans, and t-shirts are great for picnics with the family, but they should never, ever be worn at the office. A business negotiation is first and foremost a formal affair where everyone present at the table must be dressed properly. Ergo, whether you’re the seller or the buyer, the wealthier or the poorer party, it’s extremely important to pay your respects and dress accordingly.

And since we’re speaking about clothes, it’s time to focus on one more aspect: color. It’s never recommended to wear flashy colors, especially if you can’t match them accordingly. Shades like deep yellow, bloody red, fuchsia, and others, should never be worn together. As long as you keep things neat and simple, it’s ok to add a pop of colors every here and there. Black suits for example, go perfectly well with a pale pink shirt and a tie. It’s all about moderation, when dressing for negotiation!

A business negotiation is not a casual event; it’s an official meeting that can decide the fate of your company. A well-appointed attitude and a nice outfit could influence people’s perceptions on your guise. As long as you look and feel confident, your opponents will know they can’t intimidate you in any way. However, a sloppy outfit can only denote that you’re unprepared, and nobody likes careless business people with no understanding of the matter in question.

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