Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.
Negotiation Skills Company, Inc.

The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter August 1998

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Recently we received a very interesting question from a financial services person in Arizona. When the initial question arrived, we had no indication of the business Maria was in. You may be interested in the correspondence that passed between us:


I recently landed a great job with another company. Using a friend's advice, I included my total compensation as my salary on my application. Is this the norm in the industry? Also, when my company initially countered, I told the new job I was staying with my current employer because they offered me X amount (which was the total compensation as well). In the end, I chose the new job because while their base pay was lower, the total compensation was the same and the opportunities for long term career plans are better. Was I dishonest with my new employer or is this the way the "game is played"? The result of using this approach is that I'm actually getting a net 15% increase in my base salary. I must admit some concern that if they call my current employer, my old company could not validate what I represented as my leaving salary.

Dear Maria,
Thanks for your question. In general, it sounds as if you are feeling uncomfortable at having possibly misled your new employer about some elements of your compensation package at your old job and are concerned if the new folks ever check with the old ones. . .

Frankly since I don't know what industry you're describing, I don't know what the 'norms' are in that particular sector. However, if you were asked a direct question and gave an answer that was not accurate, there is always a risk of being found out. My father warned me about taking liberties with the truth by quoting this line from Shakespeare's 'Macbeth': "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

If your new employer checks with your old employer and receives an answer which undercuts your veracity, that could spell trouble. Hopefully for you, the odds are against that happening.

Your own moral compass is the most crucial one to follow in negotiation, in business dealings, and in the rest of life.

One of the reasons I find your question so interesting is that I'm currently writing a doctorate on business ethics. Approximately 25% of the people interviewed for the doctorate indicated that they run into conflicts between their personal ethics and those in their workplace.

Good luck with the outcome and may your new employer find that the value you add more than justifies every element of your compensation package.

After this was sent to Maria, she sent two very interesting comments back. Here is the first:

Dear Steve,
Thanks so much for your response. It meant a lot to know you took the time to write me back. Good luck with your doctorate!

One day later, Maria sent the following note:

Dear Steve,
I just had to write you and give you this update.....

After much consideration, I begin feeling like I would always be in a "web of deception" at my new job....So, I decided to call them and tell them I would not be joining their team.

However, before I could call, the president of my company called me in and began to ask me what I would be doing, and that he felt I had a very good future with the firm.

So, he offered me a huge salary increase, a significant promotion, a retention bonus, a few thousand in stock options and more exposure to the technical side of things!!!!!!! Now, I think just deciding to be honest is rewarding enough.....but, this was all gravy to what I was feeling!!!!

So, you guessed it.....I'm staying with my original employer!!! Although I'll never look back on my decision, I have learned my lesson and thank you for your help!!!

There are many negotiation issues implicit in Maria's situation beyond the ethical factors. Do any readers have any comments on this situation? Would you like further analysis of Maria's experience looking at the negotiation techniques involved? I would appreciate your feedback very much.


Our website has been updated in the past week; the home page includes the current quotation and we have added a selection called SITE MAP which offers site visitors a table of contents and other information about what is available on the site. The SITE MAP includes a list of all the questions and answers found in the Q & A COLUMN, our free advice column.

The updated site includes more complete descriptions of various training modules we offer in the TRAINING section. We hope you'll revisit us often.


Please tell us any stories you may have about your negotiation experiences, particularly any ways you have utilized information provided by TNSC. It will keep us on our toes.


If you approach negotiation with a chip on your shoulder, you are looking for trouble rather than cooperation.

Good luck and good negotiating,

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