Business Negotiation Advice: When Your Image is Everything

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Adapted from “When Your Image is Everything,” first published in the June 2011 issue of Negotiation.

Turning to another questionable negotiation from Illinois politics, in 2005, then–U.S. senator Barack Obama and his family bought a house in Chicago. On the same day the Obamas closed on the property, the wife of real estate developer Antoin Rezko bought an adjacent parcel of land. Rezko was a key fundraiser for Obama’s Senate campaign.

In 2006, it emerged that Rezko was under federal investigation for influence peddling while working for then–Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Obama said he asked Rezko about the accusations and was assured they were unfounded. Subsequently, the Obamas purchased a strip of the land adjacent to their house from Rezko’s wife.

In 2008, Rezko was convicted of money laundering, fraud, and aiding bribery. Obama said he regretted his dealings with Rezko, including the real-estate arrangement.

The lesson is clear: A negotiator’s reputation can be easily tarnished by dealings with an unsavory counterpart. If you have doubts, don’t do the deal; walk away.

For more Related Articles on Business Negotiation Advice, See Also:

Business Negotiators – How You Can Avoid Striking Out: When a complicated negotiation is in your future, parties may be inclined to try to make unilateral decisions on issues in the hope that the other side will reach an impasse;

Applying Hostage Negotiation Techniques: Grappling with demands coupled with threats at the bargaining table;

Dealing with Difficult People: Lessons from Ronald Reagan: US President Reagan’s approach to negotiations during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.


Discover step-by-step techniques for avoiding common business negotiation pitfalls when you download a copy of the FREE special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


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