The Lost Art of Connecting Dots: Part Sixteen

Our friends from Harvard Business Review (HBR) are back (still) at it. Now they want us to know this: “Being Nice in a Negotiation Can Backfire.” Who knew?

The article’s novel and invaluable insight says this in part:

Negotiation experts have long confirmed the intuition that being warm and friendly pays off at the bargaining table, leading us to gain concessions and capture a larger chunk of the value.

Got that? Being warm and friendly pays off at the bargaining table, leading us to gain concessions and capture a larger chunk of the value … unless it doesn’t:

But when put to the test, this prediction turns out to be wrong … Warm and friendly negotiators ended up paying 15% more for the same item as compared with tough and firm negotiators.

Here are a few off-the-top-of-my-head questions:

  • Who were those negotiation experts?
  • Who decided they were experts?
  • With whose money did they negotiate?
  • How could they confirm something that wasn’t true?
  • Did anyone read this article before it was published?
  • Is the price of an HBR subscription negotiable?
  • Should a publication as ludicrous as HBR be free?
  • Would you bother to read it, even if it were?
  • Is HBR trying to compete with The Onion, The Borowitz Report, The Beaverton, The Spoof, The Civilian, The Daily Mash, and The Babylon Bee?
  • Should it?

HBR has become a sister publication to The New York Times and The Washington Post, surrogates for the granny-state ninnies in our nation’s Capital who can’t control their pathological, power-hungry urges to tell us what to do and, more important, what not to do.

SPOILER ALERT: I’ve been given a sneak preview of HBR’s next edition, which will carry “Being Nice in a Negotiation Can Backfire: Part Two.” If you don’t want to know what’s in it, stop reading here. If you do want to know what’s in it, here are The Top Ten Things you should never say during a negotiation, according to HBR:

  1. “My favorite book is Getting to Broke.”
  2. “Geez. I hope I don’t win this deal and break my streak.”
  3. “I usually wear a shirt, but I lost mine last week.”
  4. “Are there any soup kitchens around here?”
  5. I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
  6. “Yeah. I’m just waiting for my tax return.”
  7. “Do you have a layaway plan?”
  8. “Holy Shit! It’s HOW much?!”
  9. “I have a coupon.”
  10. “Is it me, or is it getting hot in here?”

There are fine and blurring lines between intelligence, instruction, and insult. HBR is faithfully doing its part to erase them altogether.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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