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Don't Negotiate!


What? Don’t negotiate? How is that thinking like a negotiator?

There are times when it’s appropriate to not negotiate. This would be something you would consider during the “Prepare In Advance” phase of negotiation. Here are 3 examples of situations when you should consider not negotiating.

  1. When you know you would be taking advantage of someone. This comes with knowledge and experience. When you are discussing a situation with someone and you see they clearly don’t know how to get a better deal for themselves and giving away too much, you would not want to haggle hard and take advantage of the situation. You would still want to get a fair deal for yourself but creating a win for the other side as well.
  2. When you know it would undercut them too much for them to have a successful outcome. If you negotiate too hard and cut the price too low, it could take profit away from the person or business you are negotiating with. You don’t want to win at someone else’s loss. Sometimes the other side doesn’t want to come clean and admit agreeing to the lower offer will negatively affect them. If you’ve built a solid relationship, the “know like and trust’ factor will enable them to be honest and upfront so that you can be fair and create a win-win result.
  1. When you know their offer is fair but you could still get more/less. In negotiation we sometimes get caught up in the competition of the discussion. If you’ve reached a point where based on your research, you know the offer is fair and reasonable to both sides, stop there. Don’t force a further concession because while you may be able to push one more time, the fact that you pushed too hard may hinder business or negatively affect the relationship.

When I interviewed for a job once and was asked what salary I wanted. I said I didn’t care as long as it was a little more than what I was getting now. I could have negotiated for more but my motivation was a better work environment not money. I got the job and about an 8% salary increase from the job I had. I was happy with that and took it without any further discussion.

I went to Cancun Mexico recently for the WGC International Summit which is a week long conference combined with masters speaking on their expertise, adventure excursions and a give back community service project.

On one of the excursions there were of course several shops to purchase souvenirs. Also, at the hotel, there were several vendors that came in and set up tables with souvenirs on several of the days we were there.. You can see in the photo below the items I purchased. A hat, 2 backpacks and a bowl set.

I paid way too much for these items. Surely much more than they cost to make. Why did I do that? I am a negotiator right? Shouldn’t I have gotten a better deal? I did negotiate a little just because they are used to negotiating and I can’t not negotiate!

Why did I pay too much? I learned prior to arriving that this area had no other industry than tourism. They don’t manufacture anything or have any other way of supporting their families other than the tourist industry. They work hard for the little bit that they get. The guy that made the bowls hand painted them himself. I saw him painting some items at his booth so I knew he was the artist.

The other items I bought at the Tulum ruin site. There were dozens of shops all looking to sell to the tourists. They work all day in the heat just to sell a few items. It was roasting hot there over 90 degrees with over 85% humidity. I took a certain amount of money with me to “invest” with some of the shops in the area. I purposely decided to not negotiate too hard for these items in advance so they could have something to support their families.

Some people might say that I got taken advantage of. If you make a decision in advance like I did, you are simply doing another negotiation strategy. I prepared my strategy in advance and then got a few things to bring back and hopefully blessed some people in the process.

Sometimes, it is appropriate not to negotiate. Consider that as part of your preparation for any negotiation.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

1 Comment

  1. I spent time in Peru in April. I negotiated on the things I bought to get them to what I felt was a reasonable level. My thoughts were that if I could get reasonable prices, I would be able to purchase more items from more vendors and spread the wealth around a little.

    Like you, Eldonna, I could have negotiated more, but I felt what I paid was fair for both. It’s all about looking in the mirror at the end of the day and knowing that everyone felt good about our business arrangements.

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