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Sucker Punches

How to tell if the other side is trying to play you for a patsy

By Marc Diener

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

  • "So what's your bottomline?" Many opponents will test you with this quickjab to see how rapidly you'll undercut yourself. Negotiation isa ritual, and you have to respect the ritual. Your bottom line isfor you to know and for the other side to find out. Give it up tooeasily or too early, and the other side will perceive you as aneasy mark.

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

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