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October 14, 1994

Biblical Negotiating

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Biblical Negotiating
“It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase. PROVERBS 20:14
Anyone who has ever haggled over the price of something—perhaps at a car lot or antique shop—can relate to the humorous exchange recorded in this verse. A buyer demeans the very thing he wants to buy at the store, desperately hoping to push the price down. But as soon as the cash register rings the final sale, he goes off and brags about his new purchase to all his friends.
This passage specifically addresses a retail transaction, but the principle behind it applies to any kind of negotiation. Ideally, both parties involved in a negotiation come away as winners. In reality, however, one party often wins and the other often loses. Sometimes it just works out that way; one side’s case is just much stronger than the other side’s. But sometimes, the parties use less-than-acceptable means to get what they want at the negotiating table. They may shade the truth, doctor the books, or conceal important information.
This is not an option for followers of Christ who want to practice biblical principles in their business dealings. We must avoid even the hint of dishonesty or deception. That, of course, pushes negotiation to a new level. Rather than looking out solely for our own interests, we must figure out ways to win our cases without leaving the person across the table in total despair. If we lie to win arguments or close a deal, or if we practice deception to hire or retain employees, secure capitalization, or make our stock price go up, we are employing tools that God has condemned. If we want to glorify Him in our work, we must figure out how to negotiate and win without being deceptive and dishonest.
Do your negotiating techniques meet biblical standards of fairness, honesty, and compassion?

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