Mike Boone Offers Advice in D Magazine: 7 Easy Lessons on Winning Negotiations

05/13/2019

#1—You’ve Got to Know When to Run

I have a special place in my heart for Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler,” due to a memorable client experience from many years ago. Our client was trying to acquire a major competitor. At the target company’s invitation, we traveled to meet in the offices of its lawyers.

The meeting did not go as expected. Not too long after it got started, the lawyers for the company started asking my client about his conduct involving the business operations of the target company. Based on their line of questions, it sounded to me that they had a beef with my client for interfering with the target company’s business. That was further confirmed a little later, when the target company’s lawyers indicated that they were litigators and not merger and acquisition lawyers like me. That is when it became clear that they were trying to figure out what claims the target company had against my client. So I then hurriedly suggested that we break into two separate groups for lunch so that each group could go over what we had discussed in the morning.

As soon as they left the conference room, I told my client, “Pack up your stuff right now! We need to get out of here. This meeting is not about them selling their company to you. It is about them suing you right here in their backyard for tortious interference with their business. I bet that if we stick around here much longer, a deputy sheriff is likely to walk in and serve you with a lawsuit.”

He got the message. We quietly ducked out of the conference room and ran down several flights of stairs to the street, where we hailed a cab and headed straightaway to the airport. We were safely back in Dallas in just a few hours.

The takeaway from this story is mirrored in the familiar lyrics of “The Gambler”: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

#2—Leave Them Laughing

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#3—Know All the Facts Before Starting the Negotiations

#4—Never Negotiate Deal Terms on a Piecemeal Basis

#5—Never Negotiate Against Yourself

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#6—Never Shoot From the Hip

#7—Never Think You Are the Smartest Person at the Negotiating Table



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