What I’ve Learned Over A Year’s Worth Of Negotiations
As a teacher, I know that there are lots of ways that people learn. I know that there are supposed to be visual learners, auditory learners, tactile learners, and so on and so forth. But there’s one thing I know about educating a human, and this is true for pretty much everyone I’ve ever known: the best way to learn how to do something is to go out and do it.
Take blogging for instance. When I started this blog over a year ago, I really didn’t know much about blogging at all. I didn’t know SEO, how to track data points, how to code in HTML, or anything really. But I wasn’t going to learn anything just by reading about it and not giving it a try. So one day my girlfriend came home and much to her
surprise disappointment shock, I had started a blog! YAY! GO ME!
Now, if you haven’t spent any time reading my last blog post about negotiating an $11,000 raise, you should. But know this: I’m really not an expert in negotiations at all. I hate the confrontation, and I hate leaving the negotiating table like I got fucked over. But over the course of this year, I’ve actually had a lot of experience negotiating different things, like salaries, car, rent, and even a pair of sneakers. With the result that I’ve become way more comfortable than I used to be when it comes to negotiations.
Here are the things I’ve learned this year about negotiating. Just warning you: you’re going to get the good, the bad and the ugly. The very, very ugly…
sometimes ALWAYS try to screw you
I know a lot of financial bloggers and whizzes out there will say something to the effect of “A good negotiation means that both parties leave satisfied”. And while I agree this is true to some extent, I think it’s WAY more rare than you would expect. After all, negotiation in and of itself is by nature adversarial, and what the fuck do these people expect? That at the end of it both sets of people are just going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya? I don’t think so.
Here are the data points that I have:
- After posting a job for $55,000, my principal this year (different than the one I have now) said that he could only offer me $42,000 based on my level of experience. Mind you, I worked in a school the year before that gave me more training and feedback in a year than most teachers get in their entire career. My point? I was worth WAY more than $42,000. Which I told him and after I was done laughing at his ridiculously low number. He then “came up” to $45,000, which was still super low. Unfortunately, I needed the job, and took it.
- After posting a car was MSRP at $24,000, my dad, girlfriend, and I went to check it out. Turns out that the “invoice price” was actually $26,000. Which means as soon as we came in, the salesperson upped the price by 2 grand. This was another bait and switch by the honorable professionals in the car industry. And now you know why I hate them.
- My girlfriend and I are easily overpaying by a couple hundred bucks a month for our place. Because we were moving from a different state, we weren’t able to do the proper price comparisons, and as such got locked into an overpriced lease.
I really do hope that our experience is different when negotiating, but so far, every time someone has had the chance to take advantage of me financially, they have.
So what do I do with this information? At this point, I always assume the worst of the person across the table from me. And it’s worked! If you assume that they’re going to do everything to maximize their benefits, then you can get yourself in a frame of mind where you do everything you can to maximize yours.
People don’t/won’t always budge
Maybe this just speaks to the fact that I’m not what I would call an expert negotiator, but I’ve had a couple experiences this year where the person across the table from me would not budge from the number. This happened when I attempted to negotiate two separate job offers from the same school, and again when I was negotiating a car.
These guys wouldn’t budge! Market data? Nope. I know you offered significantly more to teachers this year? Nope. I know that I can buy this car for four thousand dollars less somewhere else? Nope. Price is the price. Which to be frank, really pissed me off. That’s not a demonstration of good faith, and the offers were very far away from fair.
Now, something I’ve been trying to keep in mind and not get too upset about is the fact that they might have had their hands tied. They’re might have been someone up above that said, ” No, we’re not offering teachers as much as we did last year.” or “No, we’re not pushing on price for this make and model of car.”
I figure if you’re a really good negotiator, then you might be able to make these kinds of people move. But try as I might, these guys weren’t moving.
Present unassailable information why you’re right
This one is a big one, because it can make your negotiations not only go well for you, but make them go quickly. A case study:
A few months ago I was out with my girlfriend to buy sneakers, because we’re trying to become fit af. We walk into the store, and find a pair of shoes we like. Now, I was a total retail asshole at this point and hopped online to find a better price. Well, I did. ON THAT STORE’S WEBSITE. FOR THE EXACT SAME SHOE.
So I went over to the cash register and said, “Listen, I found these shoes online for a much better price. Now, instead of me sending the money online and just having it end up in corporate’s pockets, I’d prefer just to give you guys the money. I know how tough it can be in retail. Any chance you can match this price?”
Guess what they did? THEY MATCHED THE PRICE!!!
And yeah, it probably sucked to have to give another douche with an iPhone (me) another discount, but guess what? If they didn’t, I was absolutely going to buy those shoes online. So they really won out in the end, even if I ate into their margins. Which let’s call it out for what it is: I wasn’t buying from “Grandma and Grandpa’s Store that Supports 8 Orphans”. It was at some sports store. Their investors (and share price) will be fine!
Foam at the mouth and take those bitches down
I don’t know a single person who enjoys negotiating. Actually, I guess that’s not true: I’ve met one person that’s told me that he enjoys negotiating. But other than that, those that enjoy negotiating are few and far between.
But that doesn’t mean that you can just simply rely on others to get a good deal. And it’s for the very simple reason that (with the exception of your mommy and your daddy) YOU are the person that’s going to fight the HARDEST for YOUR INTERESTS!
Now, I’m not saying that you should immediately go 100% asshole, but let’s call it out for what it is. If people are going to treat you like you’re stupid and not give you the courtesy of treating you properly, then fuck ’em; be a lean, mean, negotiating machine!
And with that in mind, when you’re sitting down at the negotiating table, and you’re starting to feel sweaty/nervous/gross/ill-prepared/whatever, don’t fucking second-guess yourself! Be confident in what you’re saying, don’t just let the other person run the conversation, and don’t be afraid to go for the GOD DAMN JUGULAR!!
I was WAY more timid in negotiations than I will be in the future. Here are things that I have every intention of using:
- Why should I buy from you when I can get the same car for $XXXXX at ______ ?
- Do you treat all of your customers like this?
- Do you want to sell this car? It doesn’t seem like you do…
- (at the last minute) Oh, and how about we throw in _____ (Oil changes for a year, floor mats, roof racks, etc.)
- You see, and this is why everyone hates car salesmen…
Negotiating a salary:
- Do you think this salary number would make me feel valued as an employee?
- Why do others get _____ while I get _____?
- What was your process for coming up with this number?
- I would really appreciate some good faith on your part.
I’ll come up with more at some point, but for now, when the going get’s tough and people are messing with my time/money, that’s what I’m going to bring out.
A word on being a douchebag…
If this is one of the first articles you’ve read of mine, then you might think that I’m a complete dick who doesn’t give a fuck about people. And you’d be half right: I can absolutely be a dick, when the situation calls for it. But I’m writing this article because I DO care about people, and am sick of those in positions of power/leverage being able to use them to screw people out of money/benefits. After all, why is it fair that a car salesmen can literally make you pay thousands more than someone else for the EXACT SAME PRODUCT?!
In a word, it’s not. And instead of being a kind little old lady when it comes to my negotiations, this year has taught me that I need to be way tougher, and stop worrying about the other party. From now on, I’m going to be nice as long as the other side shows good faith. But as soon as I’m being lied to, played, or screwed with, I’m taking off the gloves and we’re going to do this street style.
I suggest you do the same.
What I’ve Learned Over A Years Worth Of Negotiating – The Wrap Up
Listen folks: you will always learn more by doing than by any other means. Don’t be afraid to get out their and put on your bad-ass negotiator pants. You’ll never get better unless you do. Here are the results of me putting on my bad-ass negotiator pants:
- People will always try to screw you – I’ve never been in a negotiating scenario where the other person didn’t fight for their side hardcore. You need to do the same, or people will take advantage of you. I guarantee it.
- People might not always budge – Even if you think they should.
- Present unassailable information – If people can’t argue with you… well, then they can’t argue with you.
- Foam at the mouth – … and take bitches down where appropriate…
… and don’t be a douche. Until you 100% need to be a douche. At which point, use any means necessary to get what you want. Because the people across from you will do the exact same.
What are your thoughts? Did I take it 1, 2, 3 steps too far? What’s the best negotiating technique you’ve ever used? Comment below!
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Keep trying to crack the code,
Paul AndrewsFollow me on social media!