Are You Being Too Agreeable?

I once did advisory work for a midsized company whose CEO cheerfully told me, “In twenty-five years, we’ve never failed to reach agreement with a customer or a vendor.”

Because we were in a meeting with his other senior managers, I nodded my head and smiled. Later when we were alone, I said that the company’s unblemished record was an odd thing to be proud of. I quoted the old saying, “If you never miss a flight, you’re spending a lot of time in airports.”

The same principle applies in negotiation. If you always come to agreement, there are two explanations and neither of them is good.

Either you’re being overly cautious and only going after sure things, or sometimes you’re saying yes when you’d be better off walking away. There are flights that you can’t afford to miss, of course, and deals that must be made, but don’t agree simply for the sake of agreement.