Thursday, July 9, 2009

Successful Negotation Thoughts

In response to an appeal to lower my Real Estate taxes I got a call from a lawyer last night. He was representing the city of Brigantine. He was calling to tell me that the value of my house was assessed at $425,000.00, down from $515,000.00.

I asked him, "How did you come up with that number?"

He said, "We used the price that you paid for the house."

I said, "We bought the house in October 2007. Haven't prices come down since then.?"

He game me some miscellaneous BS answer that I can't remember.

I then said, "Let me ask you a question." Are you working for the city to try to get the most money for Brigantine or are you trying to be fair?"

After hesitating a moment he responded, "I do work for the city but I am trying to be fair."

I said, "I'm not sure you answered my question."

He then spent another few minutes trying to explain why his assessment was reasonable. It was a half decent effort.

I then told him very directly, "Look I feel my house is worth about $379,000 in today's market." I will agree to an assessment of $400,000.00 as a compromise."

He said, "I don't know if I can do that."

I said, "What do you mean you don't know. Can you or can't you.?"

He didn't say anything.

I said then, "I want you to be my advocate. I will agree to whatever you decide. The fair number if $400,000.00. Call me back with your decision. I will accept whatever you say. However, I want you to promise me that you will present my point to whomever makes this decision and not tell them that I will agree with whatever is decided."

He said, "OK"

He called me back later to tell me that the $400,000.00 was accepted.

One of the unfair things about life is that if you negotiate you get better deals than if you don't. And if you are a good negotiator you even get better deals. The question is what is the best way to negotiate.

I have studied this question about negotiation for many years. I started and sold a business whose primary purpose was negotiating lower prices for major corporations. I have read countless articles on the subject and have had many conversations with knowledgeable and successful negotiators.

The tricky part about this question is that a successful negotiation oftentimes is not what it seems to be. It is not always about getting the lowest price or getting your way. Many people think they are great negotiators because they are constantly haggling and hammering whoever they speak to about anything and everything include sex, money, control, and boundaries. What they don't realize is that the outcome of the negotiation is often not decided in the moment but unfolds over a longer period of time.

You can't beat the system. It might seem like there are those who get away with stuff, but over the long run I believe whatever you do has consequences. This is something that you can't accept on faith. You need to verify it for yourself. The way to successfully negotiate is:

1- Determine what you want. Be precise.

2- State what you want as clearly and directly as possible. Don't beat around the bush.

3- Listen carefully to the response for your offer. Don't accept BS responses. Point them out without irritation or annoyance.

4-Make a decision that you feel good about or walk away.

I keep practicing. I am getting better at it.

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