Mr. Bill and the Lesson in the Art of Negotiation


by Michael Stanton, Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 5:55am

Mr. Bill is a friend of mine with whom I have fly-fished. He started calling me Sasquatch because of the noise I made walking through the woods. He is also a very charming and talented fellow.

Now Mr. Bill ties flies at Federation of Fly Fishers events all over and I ran into him at the National Conclave several years ago in Kalispell Montana. When he ties flies, he frequently will give his latest creation to an earnest onlooker, particularly if it is a young lad or lass. One such lad stood there watching him for over an hour, spellbound by the feathers, biots, and generally the wealth of talent before him. When his father came to get the lad, Mr. Bill gave him a couple of flies to remember his visit. The lad thanked Mr. Bill and went on his way.

Another onlooker who had been heckling Mr. Bill asked if he could have a fly too. Mr. Bill said, “I don’t think so” very calmly and quietly, as is his chosen manner.

This onlooker looked surprised. “Well, how about if I paid you five bucks for one?”

Mr. Bill with a look of disdain on his face peered over his cheaters at the man and said, “I will sell you a fly for ten,” just to get rid of this person.

“Ten Dollars? You have to be crazy! It’s not worth that much,” the onlooker said loudly. By now, a crowd was watching the negotiation. Obviously, the onlooker hadn’t realized the poker game he had entered into.

The look of disdain turned to an impish grin and Mr. Bill said “Twenty Dollars.” Quickly the onlooker peeled off a $20 Bill and handed it to Mr. Bill who then culled one of his “mistakes” and handed it to the man.

As the onlooker walked away, I said to Mr. Bill, “That was interesting to watch! You really didn’t want to sell him a fly.”

“The fool, I would have given it to him if he had been more friendly but he was so obnoxious, I figured I would test him.”

“How high would you have gone?”

“Until he walked away.” was the answer back. “So do me a favor Sas, Put this money in the jar for the youth program donations.”

Such is the lesson on negotiation learned at the side of Mr. Bill. Now looking at the way our Republican Majority in Congress is handling their negotiations on the budget they could learn the lesson too. Don’t negotiate from weakness now. You have something everyone wants. Just because there is a Democrat Senate Majority, that doesn’t mean the Democrats in the Senate don’t hear the drumbeat of 2012. You were given an opportunity in 2010 and that should inspire you with the strength of your convictions. Negotiate like Mr. Bill.

Reprinted with permission


3 thoughts on “Mr. Bill and the Lesson in the Art of Negotiation

  1. Thank you for sharing this anecdote, Michael. Not only did Mr. Bill know the art of negotiation — he didn't expect everyone to like him. Congress can also learn from Mr. Bill not to reward individuals, groups, or nations that show no respect or patience for others.

  2. Thank you for the comment Cynthia. Since writing that I realized that the Republicans in Congress should be playing this like a high stakes five card draw poker game (it is) where they hold a mitt full of Aces (which they do). Barack Obama and his merry band of media kibbitzers and four-flushers need to remember what they said after the 2008 election. Hugh Hewitt brought it up yesterday, "Elections have consequences". Time to put up or shut up so the country can get back to what it does best, BUSINESS.

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