Everything (almost) is negotiable
Harvey MacKay

August, 2015

Within the past few years, some of the best-known names in American industry have disappeared down the gaping maws of other companies.  Other seemingly unassailable fortresses have been disassembled, and the parts sold off separately.  Nothing unusual about that.  

If huge enterprises, some so valuable their assets exceed those of many of the world’s nations, can be bought and sold, cut up into little pieces or put together into bigger pieces, then there’s no deal that you and I can contemplate that can’t be put together.  A deal can always be made when the parties see it to their own benefit.

Nine out of 10 lawsuits are settled before judgment is rendered in the courtroom because even the bitterest of adversaries will sit down at the same table when they can be shown there is a greater advantage to themselves in negotiating than in fighting.

Whatever it is you are trying to buy or sell can be bought or sold if you can get the other side of the table to see how the deal works to their advantage.


No matter what industry you’re in, or how far you go in your career, the ability to effectively negotiate can make the difference between success and mediocrity.  Whether it’s a multimillion-dollar contract or a job offer, keep this advice in mind:

Mark McCormack, author of “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, said:  “I find it helpful to try to figure out in advance where the other person would like to end up – at what point he will do the deal and still feel like he’s coming away with something.  

“This is different from ‘how far will he go?’ A lot of times you can push someone to the wall, and you still reach an agreement, but his resentment will come back to haunt you in a million ways.”

And that’s an important point to remember.  People or companies that you make deals with on a regular, or even infrequent basis, have long memories.  If you don’t fight fair, or embarrass them, or make them feel like they have been disrespected or used, then forget about doing business with them again.  

Consider the negotiating strategy used by two iconic business titans.  J. P. Morgan wanted to buy a large Minnesota ore tract from John D. Rockefeller.  So Rockefeller sent his son, John D. Jr., to see what Morgan had in mind.

Morgan opened, “Well, what’s your price?”

To which John D. Jr. replied, “Mr. Morgan, I think there must be some mistake.  I did not come here to sell; I understood you wanted to buy.”   


Mackay’s Moral:  Negotiation is not just about winning, it’s about win-win.By Harvey Mackay