Know what a “win” looks like

by | January 25, 2008

In any negotiation, it’s important to remember what is important to you. It’s easy for emotion to overtake the practical and to spend a lot of time and money when it’s not getting you to what you want or need.

Once, I had been working with a client for over 6 months on a purchase and sale agreement. Negotiations had fallen through and she learned more about the nature of the other parties to the transaction. In doing so, she also re-evaluated what would a win look like — the options were arbitration (which she might very well win) and walking away. Arbitration is time consuming and expensive and even “winning” in arbitration wouldn’t have given her anything that she wanted. Similarly, walking away with a deal that was less than optimal wouldn’t give her much.

Another client contacted me a while back asking whether she should pursue small claims court against a vendor who didn’t hold up his end of a bargain. Again, what does a “win” look like here — her losses are difficult to quantify and the vendor may or may not have valid arguments against her claims. She may spend a lot of time and energy on something that may very well not result in much of a financial or emotional win.

At some point, you play your cards and walk away despite the emotional letdown of feeling like you got less than what you deserved.