Negotiable or Nonnegotiable – Checking the Veracity

Negotiation Skills An important part of negotiating is understanding: what is negotiable? Or to turn the question around, what is not negotiable? Think about it for a moment. Is there anything that is not negotiable?

Argument on Death is Nonnegotiable

Some people might argue that death is nonnegotiable. There is an old bromide: “Nothing is sure but death and taxes.”

It’s hard to discover examples of anyone negotiating the former – negotiating death. Daniel Webster was reported to have been such a skilled debater/negotiator that he could out duel the Devil, but it has never been confirmed.

Harry Houdini, the great escape artist that he was, has yet to be sighted. Nor has the genuine Elvis.

Nonnegotiable Thing Revenue Service is Not Omnipotent

As for the other nonnegotiable thing in life, to the surprise of many the Internal Revenue Service is not omnipotent. Thousands of people, frequently by way of their accountants or lawyers, have negotiated tax returns, penalties, and jail terms.

One also can negotiate with banks, mortgage companies, airlines, automobile repair shops, telephone companies, waiters, credit card companies, supervisors, husbands, wives, and children. (Many take a marriage swear to “trust, honor, and obey for as long as we both shall live,” yet divorce statistics clearly show that these vows too – and the religious, social, and legal codes that go with them – are negotiable.)

Anything Negotiated is Negotiable

Let’s just say that anything that was negotiated is negotiable. This means that almost everything but the laws of nature (for instance, the speed of light, the force of gravity on earth) is negotiable.

Interest rates were negotiated, so they are negotiable. The prices of automobiles, food, housing, repair work, and clothing were all determined through some process involving facts and opinions; these are all negotiable.

Renegotiation of a Bona Fide Contract

Even when you have a authentic contract, it can be renegotiated. We need to look no further than the sports page of a metropolitan newspaper to see where a baseball or football player who negotiated a record-setting, multimillion dollar, multiyear contract last year now wants to renegotiate it since another player has just signed somewhere for more money. And the team owners do it!

The critical issue here is not so much what is negotiable or not negotiable, in the absolute sense, but what you think is negotiable or nonnegotiable.

If you consciously or subconsciously believe that something is nonnegotiable, then it might as well be so. Many times in life, people will want to obtain something but fail to ask for it.

I have come across people who simply do not ask for what they want, whether it is a new contract or half a glass of beverage for half the price of a full glass. This is most unfortunate, particularly when both or all parties to a negotiation want the same thing but no one has the resources to ask for it.

Never Negotiate Without Being Prepared

It cannot be emphasized enough that preparation is the key to successful negotiation. Every minute you put into preparing will be rewarded many times over as you experience your negotiations.

Do not let yourself be bullied into a negotiation for which you are unprepared. It is only through a thorough command of the situation that you can expect to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

Some of the negative consequences that can result if you allow yourself to negotiate without being prepared are as follows:

  • Inability to defend your position
  • Short-sightedness in evaluating all the issues
  • Succumbing to pressure to close the negotiation
  • Giving up too much to soon
  • Forgetting key details
  • Not considering all alternatives
  • Building an incomplete case for yourself
  • Becoming a target of your counterparts’ questions
  • Losing control of the negotiation process


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