Are hardball tactics OK to use? Sometimes a course of action is legal but is questionable in terms of ethics.
A good rule of thumb is that hardball tactics should not be used because the negotiation is likely not to be
the last time you will interact with the other party. Therefore, finding a way to make a deal that works for
both sides is preferable. Otherwise, if you have the complete upper hand and use it to “destroy” the other
party, it’s likely that at a future date the other party will have the upper hand and will use it to retaliate
mercilessly against you. What’s more, your reputation as a negotiator will suffer. As J. Paul Getty said,
“My father said: ‘You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make
some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many
Ethics establish a way of doing what is right, fair, and honest. If your counterpart feels you are being
unfair or dishonest, he or she is less likely to make any concessions—or even to negotiate with you in the
Here are some tips for ethical negotiations:
• Be honest.
• Keep your promises.
• Follow the Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated.
Author Tony Alessandra goes a step further with the Platinum Rule: “Treat people the way they
want to be treated.” Caring about others enough to treat them the way they want to be treated
helps build long-term relationships based on ethics and trust.