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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Tom Keane

Obama 2.0 — the art of the deal

In a negotiation, you’ll rarely get a better deal than the one you first ask for. If you’re selling your company and set a price of $1 million, you likely won’t get higher. And if you’re a possible buyer and offer $500,000, you probably won’t be paying less. There’s room in between — indeed, both buyer and seller probably expect that — but that comes later, not at the beginning. And one other thing as well: when you ask for that price of $1 million, never simultaneously say, “But that’s negotiable.” Doing so only shows weakness. It ensures you’ll never get full price — or anything close to it.

A good negotiator, in short, has to be tough. Most people would rather be well-liked — toughness makes them looks extreme and inflexible. But if you believe in what you’re selling, toughness is also the best shot you’ll have of getting a deal done and getting what you want.

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