Many people do not like to negotiate or haggle. But it is essential in our daily lives and we are regularly forced to negotiate whether we like it or not.
It may be with a loved one, with a child, with a service worker at an airline desk, with a receptionist in a hotel, with a Judge or member of an Garda Siochána, with a referee on a sports pitch, with an adjudicator at a WRC hearing, or when you are buying something like a car or a house or business.
If you accept this, you might as well learn how to do it successfully and for the best possible outcome.
I have negotiated to buy and sell property for over 30 years and I have learned, through practice and research, some useful tactics to the best results.
Let’s look at what I have learned, shall we, in the context of buying a house?
1. Listen carefully and aggressively to the other side
You need to listen very carefully to what the other side is saying because you will usually pick up some vital clue as to the other party’s real position-their real position as opposed to what the auctioneer says is the reason for sale. You may not meet the vendors themselves but if you do it is a good opportunity to pick up some vital clues about the property and the motivation for sale.
You need to practice the same aggressive listening skills when speaking with the auctioneer and the staff working in his/her office. It is amazing what you might hear in an unguarded moment when you speak with a busy receptionist or support staff.
You may not hear anything but keep in mind you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
2. Adopt a friendly/playful voice
The tone of your voice and your general demeanour are factors in how the other side will react to you and your position. A friendly, non-threatening voice is the one I have found most helpful.
3. Tactical empathy
Showing empathy for the other party’s position is valuable and is only possible when you follow the advice in number 1 above: listen carefully to the other side.
4. Be prepared to walk away
No deal is better than a bad deal and you do need to be prepared to walk away. Splitting the difference is a lazy, misguided way of negotiating.
5. Getting to ‘no’
Forget about getting to ‘yes’ because you can very easily get to a false ‘yes’ which will not be delivered upon; you are better off getting to ‘no’ from the other side as you will have a better idea of their true position.
6. Deadlines can be an ally
You can make time your ally by recognising that even if a deadline is missed a new one can easily be introduced. Don’t rush into a bad decision, though, just to meet a deadline-let the other side worry about the deadline.
7. Stay calm
Keep your emotions in check, adopt the approach that ‘it’s just business’ and there is no need to lose the head or get carried away.
8. Most important word in negotiations
The most important word in negotiations is ‘fair’. If you tell the other side you only want what’s fair or want a fair deal you are more likely to get a deal.
9. Don’t ask ‘why’
Ask how or what questions, not ‘why’ questions. For example, ‘how am I supposed to do that?’, ‘how am I supposed to pay that much?’ Such ‘how’ questions will encourage the other party to bid against themselves and try to find a solution to your problem.
10. Arrive at a precise, specific final offer
Make whatever offer you like-something between 60% and 80% of what you are eventually prepared to pay-and increase this by reducing increments to arrive at a final specific, odd number-never an even number.
This gives the other party the impression that this is your true final offer and you have thrown everything at it to do a deal. Offer an even figure and the other party will not accept you are at your limit.
Negotiation is not an art that you cannot learn, or which is only something that you can do naturally and you are a born haggler. Far from it. There is a science to negotiating, too, and following the 10 tips above will help you getter better deals. Over time you will get better and better at it.