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Sucker Punches

How to tell if the other side is trying to play you for a patsy
November 1, 2002

In case you haven't noticed, deal-making can be intensely competitive. Do not be distracted by talk of principled negotiations, civility and win-win outcomes. Keep your gloves up and your eyes peeled. Even the most skilled deal-makers have fallen for a well-executed feint. Here are a few examples:

After all, once you tell your opponent what you'll settle for, you'll never really know if you could have done better. Cutting to the chase is best left to experienced deal-makers who have a lot of history behind them and in front of them.

Writing has been around for about 10,000 years. In fact, the earliest written records are business-related. Unless you're the one who is hedging your commitment, put it in writing. It works.

Get second opinions if you're concerned. But try to stay loyal to your reps unless you have a really good reason to question their judgment.

Do your diligence. Inspect. Get references. Do whatever it takes to double-check the other side. There is an old Czech proverb: "When you buy, use your eyes and your mind, not your ears."

A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is the author of Deal Power.