Negotiating 101

Negotiating is such a large part of our daily lives that it surprises me how bad some of us negotiate.  It doesn’t matter what you do for a living or what your status in life is, all of us negotiate everyday.  Some of us feel intimidated by the idea of negotiating, but the fact is, negotiation is something we’ve been doing all our lives.  I’ve been negotiating since I was born.  The first time I was hungry I negotiated with my mother by screaming until she solved the problem by feeding me.  You are in continual negotiations with everyone you meet.  Your boss, co-workers, friends, boys negotiate with girls and vice versa, husbands and wives negotiate constantly.  You are negotiating when you buy a car or a house, or discuss with friends which movie to see.  Negotiation isn’t just concluding a difficult deal, it is a daily participation in the game of life.  So…how do we do that?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Here are a few tips for negotiating your next deal…whatever that deal may be.

– Practice saying “That’s too much money, I can’t afford that.”  There are billionaires out there who say that everyday.

– Hide your excitement.  If they know you love it, they aren’t going to work hard to lower the price.

– Make them sweat.  Walk away if you have to.  You can ALWAYS come back.

– Make them like you.  People want to do nice things for nice people.

– Ask…Is this your best price?  Seems simple enough, doesn’t it.  Believe it or not many people never even try!  Ask for whatever it is that you want.  Just ask.  The worst they can say is “no”.

– Be repetitive.  I was once in a negotiation at a car dealership and the salesperson said “The best I can do is take off $500″.  I raised my voice slightly and repeated “$500?”  The salesperson immediately shrunk back in his seat and said “How about $1,000?”  HA!  Be repetitive if the situation calls for it.

– Be silent.  Negotiation has nonverbal forms.  If someone is late for an appointment without an apology or doesn’t show up at all, not taking a phone call, cutting a meeting short, or scheduling a conflicting meeting, these are all negotiation tactics.  Sometimes what people don’t do or say is the most telling factor.

– Admit your mistakes.  When somebody you trusted admits he made a mistake, it is perceived as an indication of strength of character and the human tendency is to forgive.  You don’t want to take advantage of someone who admits a mistake.  Properly utilized, admitting a mistake can be a powerful negotiating tool.

– Never take anything at face value.  Just because the top of the contract reads “OFFICIAL CONTRACT”, doesn’t mean anything.  Be weary of the “aura of legitimacy”.  Everything is negotiable in life.  EVERYTHING!

– Don’t make the first offer.  Never predict the price…you may be wrong and good luck coming back from that one.  Which leads me to my last piece of advice…

– Be prepared.  Know what you’re negotiating about.  And know your opposition, client, salesperson, parent, child, significant other, friend…whoever it is.  And if you don’t know, or aren’t able to negotiate, than find someone who can and ask them for help.  People often make the mistake of trying to save money and wind up losing much more by not hiring a professional.  Spend the money on a professional if you can’t do it yourself.  You’ll be thankful in the long run.