The Art of the Deal, Part Deux

Our ethics, our personal ethos, come from our beliefs. Of course, that is true of all people because philosophy and religion tend to be at the top of the influence stack in our lives. Everything else flows down from that wellspring. In thinking of how we deal with other people, I like the outlook that is contained in the poem, “Desiderata,” by Max Ehrman. The first two lines are,

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.

The thought process here is very much like the "Golden Rule," as described in the Bible in the book of Matthew, chapter seven, verse twelve, where Jesus says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." As I said before in the first Art of the Deal article, HERE, the practical out-workings of that philosophy into our day-to-day financial dealings can also be expressed in a saying that Amy Grant's father taught her: "A good deal is only a good deal if it is a good deal for everyone involved."

How does this work out in the nuts and bolts? Well, here is a little example: I recently bought a piece of guitar gear from a guy on the other side of the continent in Reseda, CA, home of the Karate Kid. The seller advertised the item on with a price of $1250 plus fixed-rate insured shipping via USPS of $45. He extended an invitation for buyers to make an offer. I'd seen the item advertised by other sellers for $50 dollars less than his total price, including shipping, so I made him an offer of $1250, all included, basically asking him to throw in shipping within the total price. The item was bulky and weighed fifteen pounds. The seller accepted my offer and I sent my payment. He packed up the item immediately and took it to the post office. A while later I got a notice from the USPS that the package had been accepted and was in their system.

A short while after that the seller sent me another message. He said that including insurance for the full sale value, the actual cost of shipping had come out to $81, which was $36 more than his estimated cost. He asked if I might please go in half and chip in $15 more to the cost. Now, let's get this straight: I didn't know this seller from boo. I'd never met him. He lives on the other side of the continent. It is a lead pipe cinch I'll never meet this person. I will also probably never have a reason to do any further business with him. We made a deal and both agreed to it. In the modern public ethos I owe him nothing further. Soooo... Did I give him the $15?

Of course I did. He had a financial goal he was shooting for based upon his own estimates. He made an honest mistake in his estimate that end up accruing to his own detriment. Nevertheless, he first went ahead with the shipment, as promised. Then he asked nicely if I might to go in halfway to reduce the impact on him. He showed good faith. His good will was well worth the additional $15. My own comfort in having a good transaction full of good will was well worth the $15. The item arrived in good shape and we gave each other positive feedback for the transaction.

Thus, in making deals, there is an over-arching strategic goal that outweights the other, tactical ones - there are more important things in life than simple financial value. Peace in your life and good will amongst your fellow man are far more important than any financial deal.