A close associate of mine is a Master Negotiator and a disciple of the KARRASS Win-Win Negotiating program, as well as what he believes to be even more relevant, MOBUS Creative Negotiating. Paul believes that everything is worth negotiating – prices, deadlines, terms of payment, etc. You name it, he will try negotiating it. As he’ll readily admit, he’s not always successful, but Paul believes that it’s always worth testing the waters because you have nothing to lose. And he’s probably right…most of the time.
Here’s an example of where Paul’s theory doesn’t work. A friend of mine went to the doctor and was told that for the third time, his blood results indicated a major issue that could probably be helped with a modified diet. Instead of finally agreeing that he would follow the diet, he started negotiating with the doctor over certain foods that he still wanted to eat. The doctor finally shrugged his shoulders and left the exam room in frustration. To me, for all the obvious reasons, this was a stupid time to negotiate.
This leads me to some of my coaching and consulting clients. I’ll see something that they’re doing (or not doing) that is so blatantly wrong that there’s no doubt that it’s hurting them and their business. Most will take my advice, but some will begin to negotiate with me over issues that, like the harmful diet, just should not be negotiated. While I try and always be tactful, what they really need to hear from me is this – “Don’t listen, don’t change and YOU will fail. While I would hate to see that happen, it’s not going to hurt me…only you. I’ll still have a viable practice with only one new need – find another client to replace you!” Yes, it sounds harsh, but if I do anything less, I’m failing them (and myself).
Part of my motivation for this article came from a newer client, Dawne B, a real estate entrepreneur in West Virginia. Before me, she had a coach who really failed her, in part by probably telling her what she wanted to hear and not holding her responsible for execution. I came on a lot stronger and insisted that she had to make some dramatic changes in order to simply save her business, yet alone prosper. She’s doing everything I asked without attempting to negotiate the list that I gave her. Recently she wrote, “For the first time, I’m beginning to feel like I may have a chance. Thank you for your ray of hope!” Dawne…you do have a real chance of success beyond a mere ray of hope. And thank you for NOT negotiating with me!