That’s not negotiating… That’s begging!

I got a call from a prospective client the other day. He leases an office in the adjacent space to another client of mine. They had talked about how I had recently helped my client restructure his lease, and the prospect wanted to know more.

Shortly after the conversation opened, it was clear to me that the prospect wasn’t interested in hiring me, but simply wanted some market intelligence so he could confirm that the proposal from the landlord was fair. I tried to explain that getting a great deal is more complicated than just knowing “where the market is” but he was confident in his negotiating strategy.

But here’s the thing… Calling up the landlord and asking for a certain rate isn’t negotiating. Banging on the table and demoing a better rate isn’t negotiating either. When you’re depending on the acquiescence of a counter-party without applying any leverage, that’s not negotiating, that’s begging.

It’s the same strategy my daughter employs when she wants a new toy. She starts by asking nicely, then whining, and eventually devolving into yelling and stomping her feet. And I can’t speak for other parents, but the more screaming and yelling I get, the less likely I am to give in.

The same holds true when I’m negotiating with someone in a work environment. If a counter-party has something to offer and are looking to put a deal together, then we can have a discussion. If they just want to try and berate or intimidate me, I’ll just go somewhere else. I have to deal with two year-old behavior at home… I don’t have to put up with it at work.

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