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5 Biggest Negotiation Mistakes

The definition of negotiate is to reach an agreement or compromise through discussions.   Negotiating can be applied to nearly every aspect of our life.  Many times we don’t even know we’re doing it.  Yet there are some very basic principles that if done incorrectly, will yield undesirable results.  Don’t make the mistake of falling into these bad habits.

1.  Being Unprepared.  If you are going into a scheduled negotiation, you have to be prepared.  Otherwise you will fluster easily, can lose sight of your goal and become easily duped.   Take the time to write down what you want, why you want it and what you are willing to compromise.  And practice saying it out loud.  Even if it’s to your cat.  You’ll be much more comfortable on the day of.

2.  All or Nothing.  Having the attitude of ‘it’s my way or the highway’ will yield bad results.  Put yourself into the other person’s shoes.  You are both there to reach an agreement that is acceptable to you both.  A Win-Win. And sometimes that means compromise.  You should have it written down what you are willing to compromise.

3. Ultimatums.  Trying to tell the other person there’s only 2 options is a guaranteed road to failure.  There is always a 3rd option and that’s hitting the road, leaving nothing accomplished.  Have many options in your head, starting with the most desirable.  And listen to the other person.  Don’t shoot down the negotiations before they’ve really started.

4. Focusing on ‘What’ Instead of ‘Why’.  If all you see is the big fat salary raise your employee is asking for, you’ll be missing important information.  Ask questions.  Find out why they want it.  Maybe they are looking to buy a house or are expanding their family.  Or they’ve been at the company awhile and feel they deserve it.  Listening more will give you a leg up because you’ll have detailed information to discuss.

5. Losing Your Cool.  It can be hard to keep emotions out of the equation when you’re negotiating things like the sale of your home or a salary raise.  You feel passionate about it.  But nothing will lose you the upper hand in negotiating like visibly getting upset (especially if the other person is a skilled negotiator).  Try and think of the discussions as a business transaction and not a personal one.  Keep your head above the conversation.  If something angers you, stop and ask yourself why.  And give yourself a reminder to stay calm.  It will benefit you tremendously.

Of course, like with everything, practice makes perfect.  Even if it’s negotiating with your spouse over what movie to watch, you can quickly become very skilled at it.  And it can even be fun.

Posted in Tactics.

Negotiating With Your…..Dog

Yes you read that right.  How to successfully negotiate with your dog.  You don’t have to speak English (or be human for that matter) to be able to negotiate.  In fact, it’s said that only 7% of the words we use in negotiations have effect.  38% is our tone and a whopping 56% is our facial and body language.  Our canine companions will respond most heavily to tone and body language.

Below are examples of basic negotiating terms and how they apply to successfully bargaining with your pup.


The first thing to realize is that you and your dog generally have the same goals.  Whether it’s eating, playing, sleeping or pooping, you’re both on the same page.  Phew.  It’s much easier to go into negotiations with that in mind.  And it’s good to always remember-


Yep.  That age old adage of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  Put yourself into your pup’s shoes.  When you have a crazy chocolate craving and bust into your kids leftover Halloween candy, would you like your dog yelling at you and putting you in a time out?  Have a little patience.  A canine-human relationship is a long and rewarding one.


You both have an interest to succeeding in these negotiations.  For example:  your pup loves to bark—or talk.  He talks to everyone.  The mailman, your kid’s friends, the squirrel that teases him through the window every night.  You, want some peace and quiet.  Even for a few hours.  Your negotiations are beneficial to you both.   This helps to know that both of you are not making outrageous requests.  And it helps to compromise a bit.  Maybe your pup isn’t getting outside enough?  Taking him for a walk or to the dog park can let out built up energy.  In turn, let him know that barking at 10 at night is not acceptable.  What strategy will work though?  Below are two approaches.  One is great, the other not so great.


The idea behind this principle is positive reinforcement.  Because dogs respond to our tone and facial/body language, it’s important to let them know when they do something good.  If they perch on the couch, ready to give the mailman an earful, firmly say their name.  When they look at you, indicate for them to get down.  If they listen, then smile or nod your head.  Give them a head scratch and say some positive words.  Dogs love to be rewarded.


This technique involves falsely misleading the other.  If you take a treat out, and tell your dog to come down from the couch for a treat, and then don’t give it to him, this is a red herring.  It will build distrust between you and your pooch.  Not a good idea.


The ultimate goal is for you both to win.  And this can be achieved with small sacrifices. For example: you want to feed your dog healthy and nutrient packed food.  Your dog wants to eat steak and lobster.    To keep your pup from digging out last night’s dinner from the garbage because theirs was just too earthy, try giving him a doggy treat in the morning for a few days.  Then, if he still tears through the garbage, don’t give him one that next morning.  Dogs are smart.  He’ll figure out that being naughty with leftovers means no treat.   You get to keep feeding him the healthy stuff, and he gets a tasty morsel.

Posted in Best Of.

Negotiating an Insurance Claim

You never saw it coming, that SUV running the red light.  And now you have a totaled car, a stiff neck and mounting medical bills.  Then, the letter comes:  The insurance settlement letter.  And let’s face it, it’s low.

What do you do now?  What can you do? There are some things to keep in mind while negotiating with an insurance adjuster.


What do I mean by reasonable?  If you totaled your Mazda and are asking to replace it with a Mercedes, that’s what I would call unreasonable.  On the other hand, if you sustained an injury that left you out of work for 3 weeks, then tally the amount of lost income and include that in your price. They consider it fraud if you ask for an ungodly amount that is obviously not right.  And you don’t want to be transferred to the fraudulent claim department.


Once you have a price, break it down.  Write down exactly what you are asking reprieve for.  And have receipts, documents, doctor’s bills etc.  All of this adds ammunition to your counter offer.  And you can make copies and send in with the letter.  The adjuster will know that you are serious and well organized.


With all this in hand, write your demand letter.  Be sure to ask for an amount a bit above your desired price (to give you wiggle room).   Put all the info you gathered into it, justifying your price.  Don’t be scared to include an emotional justification too (especially if you had kids in the car, your grandmother or a pet).


When you receive a counter offer, don’t be scared to ask the adjuster to justify their offer.  And make note of it. There might be reasons you are unaware of that make the price a bit lower.  It doesn’t mean you have to give in, but you could lower your fixed price a smidgen, therefore bringing you both closer to settling.


Every policy has payout limits.  Know them and you may ask to receive the limits (especially if your desired number is close to them).  Or the adjuster may offer you the Policy Limits.  Once you accept, though, the other policyholder is then released of any further claims.


If the negotiations have hit a wall, it may be time to move into mediation, arbitration or litigation.  Sometimes you can’t come to agreement and need outside help.


The Statute of Limitations varies upon states, but most have a 1-3 year time period to either settle or sue.  After that time, the claim is dead.  So you want to settle quickly.

*You both want the same thing: to settle for a reasonable amount.  It can help to point that out right away to the adjuster to set the atmosphere of collaboration.  After all, you have enough to deal with and ensuring a smooth process means one less stressful thing on your plate.

Posted in Personal.

Negotiating a Lower Cell Phone Bill

What do texting fees, usage fees, data plan fees and minute fees have in common?  The ability to give you a headache!  Well, that can be true but I was thinking more along the lines of a cell phone.  With so many plans out there and phone companies advertising like it’s going out of style, it can be hard to know if you’re being ripped off or getting a deal (especially when you’re looking at your own cell bill and seeing all the fees racking up to gigantic proportions).

Surprisingly, you can negotiate with your current phone carrier.  There are a few things to keep in mind when making the call.  It pays to be prepared.  Especially since most customer service people for cell phone companies can be very skilled at bargaining.


Do some homework on the internet.  Check out the going rate from 3 different companies.  If it’s cheaper than your current plan, you need this info to use as ammunition.


The old saying of catching more flies with honey absolutely applies with negotiating.  When you call the company, keep your calm and be polite.  That doesn’t mean be a pushover (you need to be firm) but decent courtesy will put you both at ease.


Make sure your questions don’t allow them room to say yes or no.  They need to be leading questions.  Instead of “Can you give me a lower rate”, say “I’d like to hear about a cheaper plan.”


You don’t need a long winded sob story. Be direct.  Tell them with the harsh economic times, you simply can’t afford the bill.  Ask to hear about a lower rate or package.  If they decline, then follow the next step.  If they agree, then commence a happy dance.


With all that handy research in hand, inform them that company x,y and z have lower rates.  You want them to match it.  If they refuse, then you can drop the ‘c’ word: Cancelation.


When you ask to be transferred to the cancelation department, you actually want to be transferred to what is called the ‘customer retention’ center.  These guys are responsible for trying to keep you as a customer.  After all, it is far more expensive to try and get a customer to replace you with then to keep you.  These guys generally try and lure you with free perks etc.  Stick to your guns and ask for a matched rate.


If the cell company just won’t budge, look at your contract and see how much your early cancelation fee is.  Many times, the savings you’ll get with a different company more than make up for it.  It may be worth it in the long run to cancel.  And you can certainly let your current provider know that as a last ditch negotiation effort.

There is no reason you shouldn’t be getting the best deal out there for your cell phone.  And especially if you’ve been with your provider for years, they should value you and want to keep our business. (And if they don’t, then you are better off without them.)  Potential savings are anywhere from $25-$50 a month.  That’s an extra $300-$600 a year!  What would you do with the extra cash?

Posted in Financial.

How To Negotiate On Craigslist

You’d have to be living under a rock (or in Amish country) to never have heard of Craigslist.  Craigslist is a great platform to find jobs, houses, people and buy/sell items.  Especially now, when times are tough, getting a deal is incredibly important.  And with an estimated 40.8 million users every month, there’s really no better place to peruse.

So how do you negotiate with an unseen seller?  There are many ways to go about it.  Think of it as a 3-phase process.

Phase 1- Before The Offer

*Do your research.  See what other people are offering your desired item for.  This gives you great ammunition when bargaining.

*Have a strict budget.  Even taking out a set amount of cash means you are less likely to waiver on your price.

*Look for ‘By Owner’ sales instead of ‘Dealers’.  Your odds of negotiating down a price are greater.

*Find ads that say ‘Moving Sale’.  These people are likely more desperate to get rid of their stuff and therefore more likely to take a lower price.

*You can take a risk and wait a few days after the ad is first posted.  If it’s still available, there’s a good chance they are getting antsy to get rid of it.

Phase 2- Make The Offer

*Start by writing the seller an email expressing interest and asking a few questions about the item.  And be friendly.   Many times, if their item doesn’t sell, they will remember your email and offer it to you at a greatly discounted price.

*If the item is what you want, make an offer.  But make sure to offer 10-20% lower than your max price.  This will give you some wiggle room to negotiate with.

*Offer Cash.  Many people require cash only but always indicate in your offer that you will be paying with cash.

*Be available to pick up.  If, in our offer, you indicate that you can pick up the item you can potentially beat out a higher offer that does not have the means to pick up.  Especially on larger items that require a truck.  It’s less hassle for the seller.

*If they counter back, let them know that there are several other similar items you are looking at that are lower priced.  And if you can, include links to them.  This gives your offer more weight.

Phase 3- Waiting……..

*Give them a day or so after your offer.  If you don’t hear back, send a nice email inquiring if the item is still available.

*Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Find other options and make offers on them too.  If all say yes, then you pick and choose which is best.

Negotiating on Craigslist can be fun and something to master.  A lot of people don’t think they can succeed, but you can!  As long as you avoid scammers and keep in mind there are thousands of things for sale, the whole process can be enlightening and beneficial to your wallet.

Posted in Personal.