The Best Negotiators Don’t Trade Integrity for a Good Deal

Last updated: Sep 13, 2019

Throughout life, there are countless scenarios where good negotiating skills are useful. Maybe it’s time to renew a valued customer’s contract with your corporation. Perhaps you’d like to speak to the boss about that well-deserved raise. Or maybe the cable company has hiked its fee and you’ll be giving them a call to see whether you have any recourse. It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living, there will be times that call for negotiation. Embrace the challenge and try for a win, but never forget that the best negotiators don’t trade integrity for a good deal.

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If Possible, Everyone Should Walk Away a Winner and Ready for the Next Deal

The very thought of negotiating a deal makes some people anxious. That anxiety often afflicts people who think they will be facing off with wheeler-dealers who like to use unfair methods to get what they want.

Ruthless wheeling and dealing isn’t a sustainable way to chalk up a win or build a reputation. For the sake of our discussion, let’s call it “bargaining” and define it as the cutthroat approach to negotiating.

Cutthroat bargaining is why people tell horror stories about car shopping. They run into salespeople who think that slicing them into little pieces for profit is the essence of cutting a deal. Ask yourself:

  • Are you likely to cut a deal with a cutthroat bargainer?
  • If you do cut a deal with a cutthroat bargainer, are you likely to return for more of the same?
  • Does the short-term reward of cutthroat bargaining build profitable long-term relationships?

In short, you shouldn’t see a coworker, your boss, or a current or potential business partner or customer as an opponent to defeat.

Honesty Is the Best Negotiating Policy

An Entrepreneur magazine article notes that “honesty, integrity and dignity are palpable qualities, and the foundation upon which constructive negotiations are built.”

Negotiation should be a principled attempt to achieve shared satisfaction. Too often, negotiations evolve into confrontations where all sides wait to see who will blink first. Negotiating is interaction for mutual benefit. Bargaining is anything but, and it usually makes for tense, awkward situations.

Negotiation isn’t about being aggressive or intimidating. Remember, the person you’re attempting to work with isn’t your enemy. In fact, why would you willingly enter into a business relationship with an enemy?

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Know What You Want, What They Want, and a Path to Your Objectives

A primary step in negotiating is to do your homework. The more you understand the mechanics of a potential agreement, the more likely it is that you will reach a conclusion that is favorable to everyone. Know what you want, and above all:

  • Have a clear idea of what you can reasonably offer or accept, and anticipate the wants and needs of the person or entity you are engaging.
  • Be aware that entering a negotiation uninformed and harboring irrational expectations could not only kill the deal, it also could kill any chance of doing further business with that person or organization.

In Negotiations, Personalities Matter

In addition to knowing the nuts and bolts of any potential agreement, it’s important to be aware of the role of personality in effective negotiations. Negotiating is, at its core, about people’s needs. That means personal interests are on the line, which makes it easier to understand why trust is an essential part of successful negotiations.

There usually is a way for multiple parties to conclude a negotiation as winners. It might not always be easy, and it might take some practice. It’s worthwhile, though, because the goal of honest negotiations is to walk away with a mutually beneficial outcome.

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Negotiations Are About People and Goals, and so Is USF

The USF office of Corporate Training and Professional Education is all about people and goals in business, and the proof is in the prominent role the school plays in creating a world-class workforce in the Tampa Bay area.

To learn more about USF’s dedication to interacting with professionals and businesses, explore the uinversity’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education. Visit the CTPE website or contact us.

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Mark Koulianos is director of USF’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education and a 20-plus-year veteran of the corporate world. Read Koulianos’ full bio.