Haggling for Amateurs

I’ll admit that I’m not a haggler.  Good thing I drive a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 276K miles on it since I am not sure I would be very good at haggling over the price of a new car. In contrast, I am quite comfortable going in to a place and finding out what the price of an item is and then paying that price.  Like the author of a recent article by Ed Avis titled “Haggle? Yes, an Amateur Can Do It”  said, I am more than “happy to pay the list price when I can afford it, or to put off my purchase if I can’t.” I think our culture here in the United States doesn’t prepare us for the possibility of price flexibility unless we find ourselves at a flea market or perhaps a garage sale.

This recent article caught my attention because it fits right in to the idea of distributive bargaining and how it is done. In two of my previous posts, we stepped through two different types of bargaining situations: collaborative and distributive. If you remember, collaborative bargaining is where both parties in the negotiation would like to maintain a good working relationship with one another and jointly achieve a “win-win” outcome.  In contrast, distributive bargaining has resource constraints often resulting in one of the negotiating parties losing something important, making it a kind of “win-lose” thing.

Ed’s article takes a look at haggling in today’s world and discusses how it can be easily done in a number of situations. Most likely, when you picture negotiating over buying something you see a distributive bargaining situation, like purchasing a home, a car, or an item at the flea market. His article provides some great examples of different types of situations where you might be able to haggle for things.  After all, once you accept that the worst thing that other party can do is say “no”, it sure seems like haggling more might actually be fun!  The article’s first example about the man visiting Mexico illustrates that haggling skills may indeed be cultural in nature. In many countries, it seems like haggling it is the expectation rather than the exception.

Check out this interesting article on haggling, evaluate your own haggling skills and let me know what you think.  After all, these skills could be useful on our projects and when we develop our requirements as well as in our personal lives.

If you are looking to refine or validate your communication and negotiation skills (which certainly includes those haggling skills, I should think!), take a look at Learning Tree’s 3-day course on effective communications.  This course is certainly a great place to begin or revisit how well you are communicating and to learn some new skills and techniques for communicating with others even better still.

Happy haggling!

Susan Weese

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