The art of (not) negotiating

A business acquaintance recently gave me his philosophy toward dealing with his young children: “I don’t negotiate with terrorists.” I love the imagery. No one negotiates like a child wanting a cell phone, video game or sleepover. They cover every angle. They counter every argument. And often they exhaust you until you just give in to get it over with. 

Ever have an employee like that? One who has all the angles? It can be just as exhausting to deal with a high-maintenance employee with an issue or an ax to grind. But you will respect yourself more in the morning if you stick to your convictions. Remember:

  •  Your point of view might just be right. Don’t let someone talk you into something that your instincts tell you is the wrong way to go. Ultimately, as the business owner you are still responsible for the outcome and any associated cost.
  • Even if you’re not right, your name is on the door. You get to decide. If you make a mistake so be it – it is your mistake to make.
  • Sometimes it’s better to be respected than to be liked. This is one of those times. I know an awful lot of business owners who’ve given up some control to keep the peace. Remember that adage “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”?

Of course, as every parent knows it’s important to pick your battles. Don’t go head-to-head on an issue that really doesn’t matter that much. Save your energy – and your equity – for the things that really count.

Have a tough negotiation ahead? Share your comments or send them to – if I use them I’ll feature your business.