In my negotiation interview with Camp Group CEO Jim Camp, he pointed out that there is a difference between tactics and principles.

As a pilot in the Air Force, you were taught that a principle will always defeat a tactic. Therefore, it is very important to observe the difference between a tactic and a principle.

A tactic is something that is designed to take advantage of a weakness in the opponent.

A principle is something constant and that never changes.

I will illustrate the above with an example of the negotiation for the purchase of a new car. We will look at the tactic of using reciprocity and blame against the principle of honesty.

We’ve all seen it on TV and in movies and it’s probably happened to all of us at one point or another: Good Guy, Bad Guy. This classic negotiation tactic is still taught and is still frequently applied.

At the car dealership, it goes like this: You have decided on the make and model of the car you want and are now negotiating the price. The salesperson excuses himself to go talk to the sales manager about the price he asked for. He comes back and says he really fought for you and could only get the sales manager to accept a small discount.

So again you say that you will go to bat for you, go over the sales manager and talk to the general manager, even though this puts your job at risk, you really want to help.

Perhaps someone who is young and going through their first negotiation could fall for this classic tactic. But anyone who has been through some negotiations or who has studied negotiations will immediately see this tactic for what it is.

This is where the clash between tactic and principle takes place. The principle here is that of honesty. People value honesty and it is necessary to conduct business properly. Regardless of how well the seller executes the good boy, bad boy tactic, if there is a hint of dishonesty in it, the plan will fall apart and the buyer will lose trust and respect for the seller.

Yes, you can still buy the vehicle if the price works for you, but we can be sure that you will not send references to this seller and that the seller’s career will be short-lived.

Never try to use a tactic that will compete with a principle. Every time you try to implement a negotiation tactic, think carefully about it and make sure it is backed by proper principles.

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