Negotiations are a part of many businesses, including real estate, and there is definitively an art/skill set used in negotiating on behalf of another person. No matter what type of situation or opponent you face, there are a few tips to help you be the best negotiator possible:
1. Leave your ego at the door. This is perhaps the one thing many people don’t remember when entering into negotiations. Titles and experience can be good to share with your opponent, but you have to know when to use them. Waiving them around to prove a point just makes the other person annoyed by you, which in turn may lose you points and leave with less than you wanted to accomplish.
For example, if you are negotiating repair requests in a real estate contract with the other agent, arguing that you have never seen such a situation in your “15 years of experience selling 200 homes” will just irritate – you are not going to score any points there. Instead, you can point to a situation that may have been similar in another sale and discuss how it worked for both the buyer and seller. This is a much better way to show not only your experience and a similar example, but also to provide resolution and be helpful at the same time, in a positive manner – a much better way toward a resolution.
2. Listen. Many of us go into negotiations with intentions of being good listeners, but as soon as someone mentions an opposing view we tend to get defensive. In law school we learned there is a time to listen and a time to argue your own points. Listening means really paying attention to what the other person is saying – they too are representing another person and are entrusted with the same job as you, to do their best for their client. Most importantly, do not interrupt the person; instead, take notes so you can address any points that need attention when it is your time to speak. Remember that listening is actually helpful to you in presenting opposing perspectives.
3. Validate. Everyone needs validation, and whether you agree with the points presented or not, it is important to validate FIRST, before jumping into counter points: “I understand that your client is concerned about X because it will cause financial duress. Here is how my client views X.” Then offer a solution.
4. Don’t be reactive. This goes hand in had with listening – if you react or explode once a counter point is made, you are digging your negotiating grave. Practice taking deep, slow breaths and controlling your defensive mechanism. There is always more than one side to every situation, so keep that in mind; if you ever want to come to resolution you need to keep your cool and play fair.
There are many other great skills to use in negotiations, but these 4 are very basic and important. A great way to practice them is to have a friend, spouse or family member play the opposing side. They can even make it difficult for you by sticking stubbornly to their side – see how you can make your points without using your ego, by listening, validating and not reacting.