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July 3, 2015

Deal or No Deal?

Caroline Smith

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I hate negotiating. The problem is, I love a bargain!

One of my favorite pastimes is pottering around antiques fairs, car boot sales and junk stores, trying to find things to restore or upcycle. But I’m hopeless when it comes to haggling and, more often than not, I’ll pay the full price without even bothering to barter. Most of the time, I’m too embarrassed or scared of offending people.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves to negotiate (which is handy, as he’s a real estate broker). He gets this trait from his dad, who doesn’t like to pay full price for anything he doesn’t have to. So whenever there’s a sniff of a bargain to be had, my partner is all over it!

We recently found a lovely old clock for sale in a thrift store, which I was prepared to pay full price for. But my boyfriend was having none of it. “We’ll easy knock the price down,” he said. “Secondhand shops always mark up their goods because they expect people to barter. Watch and learn.”

He found the owner of the store, and said: “We really like your clock. Can I make a cheeky offer?!” I thought this was a great opening, as he acknowledged he was about to take a chance on the price, but was asking permission to go do it. “Go on, then,” she said. “How cheeky’s this offer?”

He went in at a really low price, which made the owner suck the air in through her teeth, and me cringe. “I’m afraid that’s not enough,” she said. “Try again.” My boyfriend then went into full negotiating mode. “Like I said, we really love the clock, but it’s not working,” he said. “If we buy this today, we run the risk that it’s irretrievably broken, which is why we think our offer is fair. We can also give you cash, and take the clock off your hands today.”

The owner made a counter offer. This was lower than the marked price, but much higher than my boyfriend had first offered. But within the space of a minute, the two of them had exchanged prices back and forth until, finally, they managed to settle somewhere in the middle. “Deal,” he said, as he extended his hand to shake hers. “You owe me a drink,” he whispered to me.

There’s nothing better than getting what you want when you've only paid half the advertised price. And this was possible because my boyfriend approached the situation in the right way. He kept the conversation lighthearted, explained the benefits to the owner of us buying the clock from her, and gave them both plenty of room to maneuver. There are occasions where playing hardball might be appropriate, seeking to “win” while the other person loses out. But it can be a confrontational and unpleasant experience. It’s much better to find a solution that's acceptable to both parties.

Today’s article is about the 10 most common negotiation mistakes people make, and how to avoid them. All successful managers need to negotiate, whether it's to hammer out the terms of a contract, to gain people's agreement in a meeting, or to agree deadlines with team members, so it’s an important skill to have.

If you’ve got any examples of negotiation success, or some top tips you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please write your comments below!

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One comment on “Deal or No Deal?”

  1. Prepare well before going into a serious negotiation. If it gets tough or tense you may become flustered and lose your footing. If you're well prepared, it will help you stay the course and not concede more than what you're really willing to.

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