Quit While You’re Ahead

Mediation is facilitated negotiation, so it’s good for mediators to pay attention to what happens in negotiation. I had two recent experiences that reminded me of a key negotiation principle, “quit while you’re ahead.”

In one case, I hadn’t gotten points in my airlines reward program. I made my case over the phone for why I thought I was entitled to the points; the agent said she’d give me the points. But then, I kept explaining why I felt I deserved it. It finally dawned on me: once the other party agrees to your demand, thank them, and stop!

In another situation, I was negotiating with a hotel for the “returning guest” 10% discount, which had been promised but didn’t show up on my bill. Finally the manager agreed to give me the discount. I thanked him – but instead of stopping there, I decided to push further and see if I could get him to delete another fee on my bill as well. His response: “It sounds like you have other concerns besides the discount, so you’ll need to talk with the senior manager.” That was the wake-up call I needed: I had accomplished my goal of getting the 10% discount. By trying to negotiate further, I had gotten greedy, and it would’ve probably been a waste of time. Quit while you’re ahead.

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