Over the past year I’ve been involved in several large and important negotiations. Failure to negotiate well in any of those situations would have had some ugly effects on my businesses. The following is some guidance that has helped me successfully work my way through those discussions and get to a place where I’ve been happy with the outcomes.
I read a great article in Fortune a while back. Joanna Shields of Bebo.com quoted her dad: “Your career is long and the business world is small. Always act with integrity. Never take the last dollar off the table.”
Fantastic advice. Unfortunately many of us never heed it. We get wrapped up in near term numbers, performance bonuses, and, yeah, I’m gonna say it, greed. In economic times like the present, these pressures are amplified.
Many folks look at business as a competition. In many cases it is (duh, hence the term “competitors”). Sadly we sometimes extend the definition of competitor to include anyone sitting across the table from us. Quite often, that person across the table is supposed to be our partner but we engage in completely dysfunctional competitive or territorial behaviors. Then bad things happen. What kinds of bad things? You know I’m going to tell you.
Shields’ father continues: “You can always do a slightly better deal, but that incremental dollar or windfall is not worth creating an imbalance that affects the relationship. You have to have the intuition to know when to say, ‘I’m going to make sure that we walk away feeling like we’ve both done well.'”