When NOT to negotiate

It does seem strange that we would suggest there are times when you should consider not negotiating. Let’s face it, we do it for fun, as well as because it’s our job.

However, the reality is, there are times when negotiating is either not necessary or not right.

Sam says:

I recently got the impression that my family feels a bit funny sometimes when I ask a salesperson, ‘is that the best price you can do’. I think that has to do with their uncomfortability with asking the question, more than it being inappropriate.

So that’s not really a reason not to negotiate.

But, there are times when you have to play a bigger game….

At Other Side of the Table, we believe a good negotiation is a fair and reasonable exchange of value. But not all negotiations are smooth sailing – they can be tricky. They can get heated. And there is risk involved.

Sarah says she often finds herself choosing not to negotiate. With every negotiation, I tend to think strategically about it in its entirety first. It’s important to me to always focus on the value of the relationship first.

I consider:

  • Who is sitting on the other side of the negotiation table? What is my relationship with them? – Is it a deeply engrained or important relationship (i.e. a senior executive in the Company with a lot of weight, a sponsor who invests heavily, a key stakeholder I need to work with on an ongoing basis, a husband/wife/partner). Or a smaller, less important relationship? (i.e. Your electricity provider, the salesperson at JB Hi-FI? Your neighbour you have to see every few days over the fence.)
  • What is the value of this relationship to you?
  • How much do you care about the outcome? How much impact does it have on you?
  • What’s my ultimate end game? How does this negotiation fit in?
  • Will this negotiation help or hinder my relationship with the other party, especially if it doesn’t g­o to plan?

It seems like a lot to consider, but it is simply a quick assessment to determine how to strategically approach the negotiation.

This quick assessment helps you to consciously choose whether to participate in the negotiation or not. Sometimes, you will choose to stand firm and negotiate for the outcome you need. But other times, if the outcome doesn’t impact you hugely or you can see a greater play, perhaps it’s an opportunity to not engage, or to give the other party a little win and make them feel like they’re getting what they want – with the end focus on maintaining the relationship for a longer term outcome.

It’s a balance. And it’s strategically “picking your battles” with the end game in mind.

Be clear, it takes energy to have intentional conversations, and it’s important to quickly go through our APEC Framework for even the smallest of deals, but it’s also important to decide through this process if YOU want to do engage in this negotiation. There is a difference between avoiding a negotiation, and consciously deciding not to engage.

Only you can determine the best path to follow, but whatever you decide – you don’t want to be left wondering, by deciding not to participate you shouldn’t consider it again – just move on and be happy that you consciously decided the path to tread.


This piece was co-authored by Sam Trattles and Sarah Procajlo – if you want to talk further about this concept, get in touch today.

C-19 negotiations – ACCEPT help, who’s on your team – you’re not in this alone

Part 5 Negotiating during C-19 – ACCEPT help, who’s on your team – you’re not in this alone

This is an adapted transcript from a series of videos I created to help people with practical advice to negotiate during the challenging times we’re currently facing due to COVID-19. – The VLOG can be viewed on LinkedIn HERE



Let’s make sure that we have the right team around us during a time when we are negotiating some pretty challenging things. I’ve been thinking about how isolated we are – in our heads, as well as in our physicality. So it’s important to identify who is on your team and who can help you through this?


Identifying your team members

I thought I’d lay out sort of five different areas where you can look to build your team from so perhaps get grab a piece of paper and write this down as you go.


  1. The first group is the people who help you, but you pay them.
    • Who are those people? An accountant, a financial planner, your insurance company, your telco, your electricity company.
    • All these people could be on your list of advisors, and they can help solve your problems.
    • Some of them can negotiate on your behalf. And some of them can actually just help you through the conversations that you need to have as well.


  1. The second group are those you collaborate with.
    • In my business, I collaborate with lots of other business owners on different projects.
    • If they’re doing poorly right now, how can I help them? If they’re doing well, can they help me?
    • Just by having a chat about who’s doing well and who’s not doing so well, can open up a conversation you can work through together to support one another.


  1. The third group are around your go to group, your advisors.
    • These are people you go to for any number of different reasons.
    • This could be people for a cup of tea, to have a sanity check.
    • People who are mentors or in that advisory role, a business coach or someone who you go to for a trusted conversation.
    • Whether you go to these people just for some mental health relief, a laugh or whatever it is that you need. Think about all the people that you normally would sit down and have a chat to, and give them a call. See how they’re going and if they can help you with certain things at this time.


  1. The next group I thought about was those people who’ve been through this before.
    • Now I know nobody has been through COVID-19. I’m not saying that. But we certainly have a number of stalwarts in our community that have been through this before.
    • Seek them out, ask them, you know, “what happened after the last recession?”, “what happened after the GFC?”
    • Some of these things are a long time ago, but there will be learning to know about – there are people around who can advise on that.
    • I know there’s lots of talk about Spanish Flu and all the innovation and amazing things that came out of the back of that, but I’m struggling to find how that helps me right now. So, it is interesting, but I would seek out people who have been through recovery before.


4A. Community members can also support you at this time.

  • There is information and guidance coming from all over the place, and people in all levels of Government are definitely offering a lot of services. So perhaps looking to that group as well.


  1. The final group, I wanted you to have a think about is your network.
    • There are a lot of people on LinkedIn or around our networks at the moment who are offering advice. There are webinars left and right. There’s so many of these that are free and people being super generous with their time.
    • Take them up on their offers of help – if there’s a particular skill that you need a hand with right now, try and track someone who has that skill.
    • Try and find 15 minutes in your day where you can ponder – you know what, I actually really need help with ‘this skill’ or ‘this thing’. Perhaps there’s somebody out there on LinkedIn, or through one of your other networks that you could ask for help from – then take it.


You know, for those of us who don’t often accept help, don’t be too proud right now. You can’t be, we need help. And there’s people who are not doing anything. They’re literally waiting to help people because everything’s out of their control.


If you are actually on the other end, that you’re really busy and you’ve got things you need to get through and it’s probably that you need to solve and things you need to negotiate. If you need a particular person to help you with that, look for them and say, Please, may I have your help?


We’re not very good at this as Australians, but it’s this is a one of those times where – if you need a hand from your mate, take it. Everyone’s in this together. So, you know, the overarching message here is you are not alone. If you need a hand with something, if I can do anything to help obviously reach out and send me a note.




Known who is on your team and who you can accept help from, will give you greater confidence, and help you feel supported when stepping into a negotiation.


Good luck!


About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.

C-19 negotiations – ACCEPT the need to negotiate, with Debtors

Part 1 Negotiating during C-19 – ACCEPT the need to negotiate, with Debtors

This is an adapted transcript from a series of videos I created to help people with practical advice to negotiate during the challenging times we’re currently facing due to COVID-19 – the VLOG can be viewed on LinkedIn HERE


In this crazy world that we’re living in, I am struggling just like a lot of other people to work out how do I actually practically help people. So, what I’ve decided to do is take what I know from a strategic perspective and deliver that in a series of short videos that can help you with practical implementation for immediate impact.

It’s very sad and trying times, and if you overlay that with the fact that most people hate negotiating, I can’t imagine the trauma that some people are going through at the moment on that front. To that end, I’m also open to having zoom calls discussions with anybody if there’s something specific that I can help you with. Please do reach out.

I’m sure you’ve had to have a lot of discussions that have made you feel very uncomfortable at the moment and well done if you’ve actually delivered those, because it is such challenging experience and one that we don’t relish at all, particularly if it’s about having to let people go.

For those not comfortable with negotiating I wanted to start with a focus on what’s the first step – that is simply to ACCEPT that you will make a [series of] phone or video calls to start the negotiation ball rolling.

How do we actually get to a place before we can go and have the negotiations that we need to have at the moment. To be in a position to ACCEPT you have to do this, it helps to know the actual position you are in.


A focus on debtors

I’m going to focus on debtors – take out a big piece of paper or whiteboard and lay out the actual current position.

  • who are all the people that you owe money to, and
  • who have to pay you,

This is the reality, the current position.

So for the people that have to pay you, called each of them and see where are we at. Ask them,

  • “Where are you at? What are you experiencing right now?”

Now making those phone calls can be terrifying because the outcome can mean that you can pay your bills or not pay your bills. But, knowing is better than guessing. So I think one of the things for you to take away from this is – please accept that you are going to have to make some of these phone calls that are not comfortable, but if we’re open to them then people can actually solve problems together which is really the fundamental on how we’ll all get through this.

By talking and working together there might be a hybrid solution – rather than ‘yes or no’. There might be a way to keep working together on a lesser amount, or working on something else (skills transfer), rather than winding things down altogether.

So, just know that, yes, you have to have these conversations, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it feels from the outset, particularly if you hate negotiating. It is likely that you’re not going to have to do a lot of negotiating at the moment, we just need to have the gumption and back ourselves that we can make the phone calls, the rest is about working together to find a solution (as we’re all in this together).


How much can you deal with each day

On that point, we really need to take care of our mental health and capabilities so please make sure that once you have a picture of what the actual position is, that you prioritise the discussions you have to have. Check in with yourself and talk to your network of people who can help you, or reach out to me and my team for support.

Determine how much you can handle, if you have to have three conversations today. How can you be ready to make those calls or have those discussions or can you just do one of them first and check in with yourself then go from there.

Before you make those calls or have those conversations, know that if it’s with big institution most of them are in a position now where they’ve got information on their website to help you know what to expect from the discussion.

So, if it’s a bank, telco, electricity company, etc, etc, then it’s likely that they already have it laid out for you. Now if you have to make the phone call that follows that up, then it’s about. Yes, you need to ACCEPT that you will make that call but once you get there, whilst it’s a bit clunky because people don’t have their systems and processes and training done, so it’s not as neat and tidy scripting as we have become used to, BUT it won’t be a hard and heavy negotiation.

For example, with my bank they’ve laid out on their website that this is the interest rate that they’re going to drop to, these are the terms of business loans, etc, etc. And then the information I’ve been able to get from my accountant, as an extra overlay, that has given me the confidence to make them phone calls and say “right, I’ve read everything, now what do I actually have do to, to make that change happen”.



Ensuring you give yourself some time to think and accept the task you have ahead of you, will give you greater confidence, and help keep you calm when taking the first step.


Good luck!


About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.