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Don't Cry Over . . .

Everyone strikes a bad deal at one time or another. The key is to learn from your mistakes.

This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Have you ever made a really bad deal? Admit it. We all have. Oh, sure, you thought it was OK at the time. But then you start thinking "How come I didn't ask for this?" "Why didn't I think of that?" Your hindsight becomes a laser beam of self-recrimination: "How could I have been such a blockhead?" "My God, I've been taken. I've been chumped . . . I've been had!"

It may not be taught in any school, but deal-making is a core competency in life- in the business world, where wealth and success are a fetish. Your negotiating ability directly affects your income, your relationships and, ultimately, your station in life. That's why making a bad deal can be so hard to live down. At best, you feel like Jack, standing there with a handful of magic beans, wincing at a torrent of abuse (self-inflicted or otherwise). At worst, a bad deal can destroy your career, your finances and your life. And while your own bad deal may fill you with rage, disbelief and self-doubt, a calmer, more thoughtful analysis would be far more productive.

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