More on the value of negotiating

Earlier today, I shared some tips on salary negotiation. Learning to negotiate your salary is one of the best ways to boost your income — not just in the present, but over the course of your entire career. In fact, one 2010 study found that failing to negotiate on your initial salary can mean missing out on over half a million dollars in your lifetime.

But negotiation is a skill that can be used for more than seeking a higher salary. In the words of master negotiator Herb Cohen, “You can negotiate anything.”

For a variety of reasons, a lot of folks in the U.S. hate haggling. They don't want to negotiate. If you're one of these people, that's fine. But you have to understand that by failing to negotiate, you're paying more than you need to.

Consumer Reports magazine has found time and again (and they report this several times a year) that only a fraction of Americans negotiate. Of those that negotiate, a large percentage receive discounts. (And, of course, of those that do not negotiate, zero percent receive discounts.)

Here's a screencap from a Consumer Reports article:

Consumer Reports stats on haggling

I'm not sure why so many people are hesitant to haggle. (But I'm one of them!) Maybe it's because we're trained to hate the word “no”. But “no” isn't the end of the world. Last week, former GRS staff writer Kristin Wong published a video explaining what happens when you negotiate and get a “no”:

Wong's advice for coping with “no” when you ask for more money? Embrace it! You know that you've tried. And you know that you've reached the limit of what the other party — your client, your employer, whomever — is willing to pay. You're not leaving anything on the table.

By the way, Kristin Wong's YouTube channel is filled with great stuff. I plan to share more of it here in the future.

A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I spent a few days in Clearwater Beach, Florida between sessions of CampFI. As we were checking into the hotel, my friend Marla practiced a little negotiation.

“Any chance we could get lounge access while we're here,” she asked the man at the front desk good-naturedly. She'd been joking with him politely for five or ten minutes already. Marla and the clerk had a good rapport. No, we could not have lounge access.

“How about free breakfast?” Marla asked, smiling.

The front-desk clerk paused and looked at Marla's beaming face. He leaned forward. “Sure,” he whispered confidentially.

I never would have tried this. And after the clerk had said “no” to my first request, I would have let it go. But Marla is a master negotiator (and a warm person everybody loves). She fished around until she found a “yes”.

Are you a negotiator? Do you haggle often in day-to-day life? Do yo have some tips you could share with other GRS readers?

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Church
Church

Interesting article. I enjoyed reading. It really is true, once you get in the mindset that a rejection puts you in no worse situation that you currently are, you will be more comfortable asking for everything.

I am not a haggler, but enjoy getting people to smile or laugh. Laughing helps a person loosen up for a request or, in many instances, will volunteer something of value for free. Or maybe it just makes their day better and that is great as well.

Joe
Joe

That’s very cool. I rarely negotiate, but maybe I should try more. I assumed that the price is final for most things.
Have you negotiated for anything lately? Let’s see some personal example.
The last time I asked for something was when we got a crappy room on our vacation in Mexico. Got upgraded to a much nicer room for no charge. That was totally worth it.

Joe
Joe

I asked for a discount at my optometrist today and she didn’t give an inch…
I’ll keep trying.

Kristin
Kristin

Thanks for sharing my video J.D.! Another reason I negotiate is to establish myself as someone who speaks up for herself from the beginning. With freelancing, this helps me avoid frustrations like scope creep, for example. When I establish myself as someone who speaks up, I feel like there’s less chance that a client tries to take advantage later. And even if it does happen, it’s easier for me to push back because I’ve already set the tone that I’m not a complete pushover. I’ve learned to embrace negotiating professionally, but I have to admit, I’m still bad at haggling… Read more »

Christine
Christine

Great article! I, too, hestitate from negotiating price points or asking for extra perks, yet I am ok with bartering goods or services in our community. (Weird right?)

Reading the story of Marla’s negotiation makes me want to try negotiating more this year. I think sometimes I get afraid that I might seem like a jerk for asking, but Marla is one of the nicest people I’ve met. Thanks for sharing!

Abhinav Johnson
Abhinav Johnson

I fear this type of negotiations. I guess I can improve with some routine practice. Hopefully, it will help next time during the appraisal process.

CalLadyQED
CalLadyQED

“And, of course, of those that do not negotiate, zero percent receive discounts.” Not so. I got 10% off my motel last weekend without even asking. When the clerk saw I was a repeat customer, she gave me a discount on the spot. Similarly, my dad has been getting a discount at the burger place by his office for years. He goes there at least once a week, so they rang him up as a senior even when he was no where old enough. Granted, these are specific examples of customer loyalty being rewarded, but they are still counter examples… Read more »

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