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 explained 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.

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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