What I know about the art and science of negotiating I learned as a matter of survival.
Driven to save myself and my family from financial ruin, I jumped into the deep end of the real estate industry. I passed the state test to become licensed, but I knew nothing about negotiating. I was driven out of desperation to find a way to bring interested parties together, get them to agree, and see that everyone walked away a winner.
While I no longer sell and lease industrial properties, I still rely heavily on the negotiating skills I learned. Every day, I use them in one way or another. Sometimes it’s a complex issue, but most of the time it’s just a series of one-minute negotiations.
You are a negotiator, too. You negotiate with kids, your spouse, bosses, co-workers, employees, creditors, vendors, friends, clerks, and salespeople. You negotiate with telemarketers, credit card issuers, cellphone providers, repair people, teachers, and neighbors. You negotiate using your words, your tone, your body language—even your silence.
Negotiating is the way you get what you want, whether it’s a roof, a new car, or getting your teenage son to put the seat down.
Something for EveryoneThe goal is not that everyone comes out an equal winner, but that everyone should walk away satisfied. Negotiating a deal that gives something of value to each party is the mark of a wise negotiator.
Ask for More Than You Expect to GetTo illustrate, let’s say that you want to make an offer considerably less than the asking price of a house you would like to own. You write the lowball offer, but in a surprise move, stipulate that the price includes the laundry room appliances, pool table, dining room suite, and piano that you saw on your initial tour. The seller responds that the price of the house is acceptable, “but that certainly does not include my personal property!”
The Party With The Most Knowledge WinsNever forget that knowledge is power. The more you know, the better your chances of getting what you want. The true skill comes in keeping what you know to yourself, revealing only a bit at a time, and doing so only when it is to your advantage.
The Least Motivated Party Is in ControlIf the other party finds out that you are desperate to make the deal, you’ve just lost control. Any time you can send nonverbal cues that you are not desperate—and in fact, you are willing to cancel if you do not get what you want—you retain control. This drives a desperate opponent crazy. No matter how anxious you may be on the inside, never let it show. The simple act of calmly and slowly closing (never slamming) a notebook, briefcase, purse, calendar, newspaper—whatever is handy—is one of the most powerful tools a negotiator has. Without saying a word, you allow the other party to fear that you may not continue.
Negotiating has to be one of my all-time favorite activities. But I do have one tiny regret: I just gave away my secrets.