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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Negotiate Anything and Win

Mary Hunt on

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, spouse, boss, 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.

No matter if your negotiations involve an allowance program for your kids or convincing a creditor to reduce your interest rate, learning to negotiate from strength will reduce tension, relieve stress and build your confidence.


PRINCIPLE: Something for everyone

The 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.

PRINCIPLE: Ask for more than you will settle for

To illustrate, let's say 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!" You win because you get your price (you didn't really want the 25-year-old stuff, anyway) and the seller wins because he stood firm against what he considered to be an unreasonable request.


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