GeneralHr Library

When To Avoid Negotiating

Source | FastCompany : By TED LEONHARDT

Even if you train yourself to be the best possible negotiator you can be, there will be times when you should put off trying to seal a deal because you aren’t prepared or in the right mind-set. These types of instances are often tricky to identify. Here’s what to look out for.


Maybe you’re desperate for work and have no other option but to try and strike a bargain. Maybe you’re taken by surprise and have to haggle unprepared. Or maybe it’s just stress that makes you launch into a negotiation when you’d do better to ask for a raincheck and take a breather.

The first two cases are somewhat easier to learn to avoid than the third. The bad aftertaste you feel after making an unsatisfactory deal just because you’re desperate for the work tends to stay with you, so you can avoid taking on crummy projects next time.

Similarly, there will be a few times in your career when someone prods you into negotiating when you aren’t expecting to—so you can skirt similar situations or simply meet them with, “I’ll need some more time to prepare before we go forward with this.”

The third is trickier. We tend to think of the best negotiators as ready for anything, heroically able to compartmentalize their thinking, focus on the deal, and push it through. Maybe those people do exist. Personally, I’m not one of them, and you don’t have to be, either.


Jesse was a successful industrial designer. He’d designed espresso makers that sat on kitchen countertops and watches that encircled wrists the world over. His firm and its billings were growing.

But lately, Jesse and his partner of nearly 20 years were arguing almost daily. An extra glass of wine sometimes relieved the tension; sometimes it made it worse. Jesse found himself out the door earlier each morning. Once he got to work, he felt better—except that he kept missing longstanding appointments, forgetting to return calls, and in the afternoons he felt blindingly tired.

So Jesse was unusually happy to hear from a Silicon Valley robotics firm who wanted him to design their new product. A trip to the West Coast seemed just he boost he needed, Jesse recalled in our recent coaching session. After firing off a $100,000 budget for the project’s first phase and booking his fight, Jesse headed out to visit his prospective client. At first, things went swimmingly. The team liked his ideas, and the conversation was upbeat. “I was pretending I didn’t have a care in the world,” Jesse said, “and I almost believed it.”

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