“I’ve got this thing, and it’s (expletive) golden… and I’m just not giving it up for (expletive) nothing. I’m not gonna do it.” This quote, from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in allegedly conspiring to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat (which Blagojevich has the authority to appoint), is one example of where NOT to negotiate.
Mr. Blagojevich allegedly attempted to negotiate, among other things, a job as an ambassador, the appointment of his wife to corporate boards and contributions to his campaign fund.
While we’ve all heard the saying “everything is negotiable,” not everything is or should be negotiable. This is especially the case when engaged in public service. Just because you have the power doesn’t mean you should use it. Unethical and/or illegal conduct is never appropriate in your negotiations.
Aside from the obvious negative consequences (incarceration, etc.), inappropriate behavior should always be avoided because your reputation matters and you should jealously protect it. At the end of the day whether a deal is reached or not, everyone walks away from the table with an impression of whether their counterparts dealt with them in a professional and honest fashion.
If you gain a reputation as an honest and trustworthy negotiator you will more likely get what you want in future deals. If not, you will eventually lose credibility, fewer opportunities will come your way, and fewer negotiations will turn out in your favor.
And in the worst case scenario, you might have to do a 7:00 a.m. perp walk like the now infamous Mr. Blagojevich.