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Do the Right Thing (Part 2)

Notes on Negotiation

Written by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

“Usury” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates” and can also be used “in a moral sense,” according to Wikipedia, as “condemning taking advantage of others’ misfortunes.”

We as a society have even passed laws prohibiting certain usurious behavior, like prohibiting certain businesses from taking advantage of victims of natural disasters or legally capping the amount of loan interest an entity may charge. For instance, some states have anti-gouging laws like California, which prohibits retailers from raising prices more than 10% after a disaster.

Why? In a free market economy, shouldn’t we let folks just negotiate to find a mutually acceptable price? If I own an apartment building that survived a hurricane and thousands are now desperate for housing, shouldn’t I be able to charge whatever rent I want? That’s just leverage, right, as few units are available (bad Plan Bs for the unhoused) and there’s huge demand?

You’ve probably heard the term: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Your human values here should outweigh your economic cost-benefit value proposition and leverage, as noted in the 2011 Harvard Business School article “Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should.”

So, in addition to not exercising leverage when your future business relationship is more valuable than the incremental added value you can get, incorporate your moral values in these negotiations.

Latz’s Lesson: Your morality and human values should be considered in all negotiations, not just your leverage and raw power.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts' proven research. He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN • Premier Indiana CLE


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