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How-To Negotiate or Bargain

Common Useful Traits In Every Negotiation

Director of "Harvard Negotiation Project," Roger Fisher, says that negotiation becomes easier when you view the interchange (say between you and your boss) as a discussion of "joint interests," which is likely to make both parties "find common ground" and bring fair terms to the table.

Kathleen Reardon, a Univ of Southern Calif. business school professor, echoes this opinion and recommends using language techniques in the negotiation process:

. Versatility: Ask lots of questions so there are no surprises.
. Goal Definition: Define goals and include a contingency plan (a backup).
. Remain Focused: Set the agenda and remain focused on the goal at hand.
. Understand The Terms of Other side: Create a persuasive opening and try to know what your counterpart is bringing to the table.
. Handle conflict: Know how to respond and react especially if you've hit an impasse; try to bring things back to the defined goal.
. Cultural divides: Learn to surpass them. Don't forget global differences, especially among cultures with different styles of communication.
With these basic communication tools mastered, anyone can become a skilled negotiator.

How to Bargain ("haggle") At A Store

Until a decade ago, I used to think that bargaining (or negotiation) or "haggling" was rude and embarassing. In other words, I used to think that "civilized" people did not bargain. I tried it once and try it whenever apt. Ten years ago, I was at at a local electronics store looking at a brand new Sony 27" TV. The "sale" price was "$979." When a salesman approached me, I told him that I liked to take that TV home but he had to make me a sweet offer. Pat came the reply, "But sir, the price you see is sweet. It is our best sales price." I said it was too expensive and began to walk out. He then called out to me and said that he would talk to his manager and be back soon. Back came the offer for $900. Still too expensive. Could I make an offer instead? Sure. I offered $750 and I wanted that black TV stand (on display) that had a few scratches on it. Manager sent back a final offer, $800. Deal. I was watching "Star Trek" that night.

First, an attitude of "I got nothing to lose" helps you. Caveat: If you really don't feel this feeling, then your body language gives it away and the other party will see through you. So, BE READY TO WALK OUT. Second, keep your offer reasonable. On big ticket items, I think it is always worth your time to negotiate.

A few bargain experts suggest using the following "magic lines" during your bargaining.

. "Your competitor can do for less": Not "has it for less" but "can do it for less." There is a difference. If I (as a salesman) perceive that you will simply be too much work for too little reward, I might let you go and look for other lucrative customers. So, be tactful. Say, I like to give my business here because [I like you/your store/next door pizza shop/whatever] but you folks got to help me a little bit. "I am sure if Fry's Electronics can offer this digital camera for less, you can too."
. "May I speak with the manager-in-charge?": Talk to someone who has the authority to cut you a deal or you will be wasting your energy and time.
. "I think you are not meeting your contractual obligation": Ask for reparation when a retailer/business goofs up. When a store does not meet its obligation (is late, uses wrong tag, whatever), think about what exactly you want in return from the store and then ask politely for it when you call/meet the manager.
. Use Silence As a Weapon: It conveys to the other side that you are "on the fence" and can jump to the other side anytime. They (retailers and businesses) don't want to lose you. They would rather make less profit. Keeping quiet usually increases "freebies."