Negotiators Always Have To Be Worried If The Other Side Is A “Nice Guy”

Sure, they're nice now, but how about later on…?
Sure, they’re nice now, but how about later on…?

Once you do deal with the other side of the table, you should have a pretty good read on them right? You feel that you know and understand their negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. As you move forward and do more deals with them you should have a good understanding of what to expect from them. Umm, not always. Sometimes when the other side of the table is too friendly, you can very quickly find yourself in hot water…

The Set Up

The way that this problem starts to unfold is like this. You negotiate with the other side of the table and you reach an agreement. They then go off and fulfill their part of the deal that was negotiated. This is pretty much just what the negotiation definition says should happen. So far, so good.

Another opportunity for you to do business with the other side comes up. You once again negotiate a deal and they follow through and complete their part of the deal.

It looks like you have a very good working relationship with the other side of the table. You are able to let them know what you need to have done and they do good work at a fair price.

The Take Down

This is where things start to go off track. Now you have a larger project that you need to have performed. For some reason you don’t have a lot of time to go through the negotiation process and you need the work to be started quickly. You reach out to the other side of the table, explain what you need and get assurances that it will cost a reasonable amount. The work starts.

Time passes, the work gets done and then you get presented with the bill. The bill is much larger than anything that you were expecting – congratulations, you’ve been had.

The other side had been waiting for this opportunity. They knew that if they provided enough concessions on the small deals that they could lull you into a sense of compliancy. Once there, they knew that it was only a matter of time before they would be able to get all of their money and then some back on a large project.

How To Defend Yourself Against The “Nice Guy”

No matter how many times you have worked with the other side of the table, this “nice guy” tactic can be pulled on you at any time. The way that you can prevent this tactic from being used on you is to make sure that you always get an upfront price from the other side before any work is started.

What you are going to want, no matter how many successful deals you’ve done with the other side, is a written price for the deal. In the worst case where they are hesitant for whatever reason to provide you with a written price, make sure that they at least provide you with a “not to exceed” price.

Just to make sure that the other side is not trying to take advantage of you, if it’s possible get multiple bids for the deal. Taking these steps will prevent you from being confronted with a nasty surprise by a “nice guy”.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiators can be lulled in to a sense of complacency if they aren’t careful. Having completed successful negotiations with the other side and having had them deliver on that deal, you may believe that all future deals will go that smoothly. Careful here, they may not be practicing principled negotiation.

However, what can happen is that having lured you into a sense of complacency, the other side may now strike. When it comes to a bigger deal, they may get you to agree to the deal without working out the details. Once this is done, they can come back and charge you their maximum price.

In order to avoid getting taken advantage of by someone whom you thought was a “nice guy”, you need to always keep your negotiating guard up. Specifically, you need to make sure that you always get upfront quotes for work that you are going to have performed and that the work does not start until you give your approval.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If you get presented with a bill that is much larger than you though by a “nice guy”, what action do you think that you could take that would lower the bill?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

There’s a dirty little secret in the world of negotiations that none of us really like to talk about. We like to think that in order to get the other side of the table to do something, all we have to do is to execute the negotiation process to reach a deal with them, get a contract signed, and then it will happen. It turns out that real life is a bit more complicated than that