Can You Be a Good Guy in Negotiation?


I often watch the guys negotiate on American Pickers and Pawn Stars (a couple of my favorite shows) to study their negotiation techniques.  Recently, both shows have shown a little used technique that has a lot of power.  They raise the price of an item when the seller seriously undervalues it, and tell them why they are offering more than the seller is asking.  Why would they do that, after all doesn’t one want to get the cheapest price?  The answer is “Yes, But . . .” The “but” in this instance is the buyer’s personal integrity, their relationship with the buyer and their reputation.  Let’s take a look at all three.

First, these guys are pretty smart business men and know the value of what the things they buy are worth.  Yes, they want a good deal, but if someone has seriously underpriced an item, they will tell them and make them a better offer that is closer to the true value of the item.  While they will negotiate hard, their sense of fairness is part of their integrity. 

Second, by being fair, they also enhance their relationship with the other party.  This act may cost them some money up-front, but tends to help them when they are negotiating other items or are involved in another negotiation.  This is because the seller trusts them based on that positive experience and they are more willing to accept an offered price without negotiating.

Finally, they want to protect their reputation as being fair to deal with.  If they took advantage of the underpriced item, and the seller found out, he would not hesitate to spread the word that the buyer was unethical, or unfair in their dealings.  This could hurt their business since people would not want to deal with them. 

When negotiating, negotiate with integrity.  You enhance your image and further your reputation as a good person to do business with that will pay dividends in the future.

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  1. Great tips, Bill. No one wants to find out later on they have been ripped off. From a repeat customer standpoint what you point out makes sense.

  2. I had not thought about this in negotiations, Bill, but you are 100% right. Integrity pays off in the end, no matter what setting you are in.

  3. Great article, Bill. Integrity is so important in business. It’s wrong to knowingly take advantage of someone, even when you are on the buying end.

  4. Very sound advice Bill. For that matter we should all do everything in business with integrity!

  5. Bill – We love those shows too! Integrity is any situation is critical – and I love that they not only think of themselves but of the seller too so everyone feels good about the transactions. When Brian and I are speaking to new prospects about working with us to design their brand or a custom WordPress theme, we sometimes end up talking them into spending less (weird I know), implementing less at once, or taking a different route because we put their best interests – not our wallets. Some are very surprised by this and in the end we have their respect and their trust and the results have come back tenfold.

    Jennifer Bourn, Bourn Creative