“You get what you give.”, “You reap what you sow.”, “You get out what you put in.” We’ve all heard these sayings before. And certainly there’s correlation to giving and receiving in life. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. But does this saying hold true in negotiation?
This is a tough one. Negotiators of first rank will all tell you not to give more than you don’t have to (I say this too) and not to give more than asked. In fact, many will tell you not to give at all. They’re all successful negotiators and many of them secure repeatable successes in their negotiations.
So should we give more?
I think it’s important to differentiate between helping someone and negotiating with someone. A lot of people get the two mixed up. And many of us help someone instead of negotiating with them and vice versa. If your true nature is to be altruistic and to give to those in need (as I believe most people’s true nature is) if and when you can, then being altruistic and helping someone who’s in need is the right thing to do. I truly believe that you will reap SIGNIFICANTLY MORE than you sew in those circumstances. But do not misconstrue someone in need with someone who is ‘needy’.
There are, unfortunately, some who will use the ‘we’re hurting’ statement (even when they’re not) to get better deals from those who are prone to give. This hurts feelings, breaks trust and makes people feel like they’ve been used. And all it does is burn bridges when you find out that the person making those statements lied to you (and you always find out eventually).
So what should we do? Stop giving to those in need?
Absolutely not. But it is important to establish their need is real or perceived. If you perceive a need, what homework and research are you able to do to determine whether the need is real? Well, if you’re in a commodity business it’s pretty easy to see where the commodity price is at and you can determine whether that price swing has negatively affected business in the industry (the same is true for currency swings). If you’re dealing with a publicly traded company, their financials are available to review, so you can determine how well they are actually doing. But if you’re dealing with a small to medium sized shop it comes down to:
- Asking people you trust, who are connected to the business in some way, whether that information is true;
- the person’s (whom you’re negotiating with) body language; and
- ultimately it comes down to trusting your intuition and whether you trust the person you’re negotiating with.
People who play the ‘we’re hurting’ game (when it’s not true) to get better deals will get burned eventually and the burn will hurt, but that doesn’t mean you should get jaded and stop helping people. Being kind and helping someone in need (if and when you can) is essential for business to survive, be maintained, and to grow.