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Unwitting cruelty

Florence Kennedy Rolland, Lead Tutor

Faculty Blog

There are times that even a hardened negotiator can be stopped in their tracks. No fight, no quibbles, no what ifs…. just “ok, I’ll take it”. It’s not until later that I think to myself, how did I let that happen? Surely I could have done better? Surely I could have at least tried to negotiate on the price?

So what stopped me?

Most often it’s time pressure – I don’t mean from the seller, from me. I often don’t have the time to do the job properly, so I just agree so that it's one less thing to worry about, and I can tick it off my list.

I am being very inconsiderate though. If you have ever had someone quickly agree to your price for a service or goods, you will know exactly what I mean. There is nothing more annoying (to a negotiator) than someone instantly agreeing to your first offer.

To a negotiator, a first offer is something that you have considered in detail. You can justify it, defend it and have put a great deal of thought into how far you might move on it, if you can get something else that’s important to you.

In short, it’s been an effort to make that first offer.

By accepting it without a fight you make the other party question everything about the deal.

Was it too cheap? How much more should I have asked for? Is there something I don’t know? What is wrong with the deal?

Many a client has done it to me, however, only one has apologised. He spoke to me after the deal was done. I had been left questioning my price for a month, but when we met again, he admitted he hadn’t had the time to negotiate and was so keen to secure our services he was happy to just agree. Although, he did regret not even trying.

So what should you do?

Remember that negotiators think in ranges, and a first offer is usually just that, their first. That means that there are likely more offers, better than the first, if you can just take the time to try. Even if the answer is no, at least they (and you) can feel better that you tried.