We write and lecture an awful lot about the importance of negotiating.  We suggest or critique, various techniques, strategies, approaches and tactics.  All of our efforts are made with good reason.  While negotiating is an important survival tool for any person, it is an indispensable skill for the people known as “creatives”. (See our upcoming article in PhotoShop User Magazine on the subject).

Sometimes it becomes obvious or painfully obvious, that engaging in any further negotiations is simply pointless.  Ideally one ought to come to that conclusion only after careful consideration and with great reluctance.  There are of course exceptions to that rule.  Let’s address an obvious one here.

Say you exhibit some common sense and advise your prospective client that you want or need the opinion of your lawyer (or accountant or financial planner or banker or partner) before agreeing on the final terms of a deal or just proceeding further with your discussions.  At the mere mention of a third party professional your “opponent” gasps, rebels and with an incredulous tone tells you that such involvement is a “deal killer” or otherwise indicates such profound dissatisfaction so as to make it clear that your desire demonstrate that the two of you, “just couldn’t possibly work together” or (our favorite) “I’m insulted”.  If the later is said, we just can’t help but think of Groucho Marx faking outrage. But we digress…

Any reputable business person not engaged in a swindle, con job or some substantial equivalent, should have no objection to your merely obtaining the professional insight of a professional.  If you are not sure what (if any) tax consequences such a deal may have upon you it is wise to call your accountant. If you are not sure whether performing the tasks sought by the client might cause you to get sued for copyright infringement or worse – be illegal, not calling your lawyer would be flat out stupid.  We are not suggesting that you always need an accountant or lawyer to set next to you and hold your hand during the entirety of every negotiation.  Rarely, very rarely, is that kind of extensive involvement necessary.

Despite what you may have seen on TV, people like Donald Trump, Steve Wynn and Warren Buffet do not make decisions in a vacuum, on the spot and without the assistance of their teams of lawyers, accountants and experts.  No one person knows everything and these wise men know what they don’t know. Hence the teams of suits.

The refusal or reluctance to permit another pair of specially trained eyes, ears or nose, in on the discussions serves as both siren and flashing lights warning, “Danger Will Robinson”! In such situations you are in effect, being told that you are on the menu for lunch.  Something has been or is about to be, put over on you and your client fears that an objective professional will see, hear or smell the con in no time flat.  Doing business with people who fear even a “look in” by a trained professional is tantamount to begging for your pockets to be picked.  Put diplomatically: they have something to hide and given the chance, will not deal with you in good faith in the future.

Such people are wonderful for lawyers as disputes, which morph into litigation, generate much larger legal fees than administering an ounce of simple prevention via a suggestion or opinion. At such moments you might as well rise from the table, politely tell the person it has been “interesting” speaking with them and advise that because you are a professional, you have other professionals on call and simply won’t do business without them.  Only a masochist would pursue a customer having shown these colors – no offense to masochists intended.

Ed & Jack