This Is Not Negotiable: You Must Learn To Negotiate

My auto insurance company is currently trying to obtain payment from another company to cover repairs to my car from an accident in July. I was stopped. A pickup truck barreled into my car. My company feels that the pickup driver’s company should pay for my bodywork. The process is called subrogation.

My local agent reminded me that it could take some time before the matter is resolved. He and I chatted about Herb Cohen’s book You Can Negotiate Anything and agreed that we both have found it useful. As Cohen points out, time is an important factor in any negotiation.

If you’re in a hurry to reach an agreement, be it a purchase price for a house or a salary amount for a new job, your position may be weakened. If you can be patient, you may obtain a better outcome. Of course, you may also run the risk of having an offer taken away.

For SAB Miller, Patience Pays Off

The recent brewery merger/takeover provides a great example. AB InBev made three offers to SAB Miller before the fourth offer was accepted. SAB Miller’s willingness to wait earned a greater payoff. (A looming deadline was also a factor in their decision to say yes to the deal.)

Information is another key factor in a negotiation. If you know that a car was delivered to a dealership in March and has been sitting on the lot for six months, you can expect that the dealer to be particularly motivated to sell that car.

In the new film Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks’ character negotiates a Cold War prisoner exchange. Tension is added to the film’s climax when Hanks’ character overplays his hand. But, based on the information he has and observations he has made, he is confident he will achieve his desired outcome.

What We Have Here Is Failure To Negotiate

One of the smartest individuals I’ve ever worked for sabotaged his career by being a horrible negotiator. When a staff member, vendor, client, potential new hire, etc. came to him with a proposal, he would respond with his own counter proposal. And that would be it—take it or leave it. This shortcoming eventually cost him his job.

We all negotiate big and small things every day of our lives. Some of us embrace negotiating. Others avoid it at all costs. The tension of confrontation can be intimidating. Learning to negotiate confidently is vital to your professional life and your personal life.

What Herb Cohen calls a “win-win” outcome—where both sides can come away somewhat satisfied with the results of a negotiation—should be a goal of most negotiations.

Interestingly, Herb Cohen began his career as a negotiation instructor at an event sponsored by my insurance company. Will the passage of time aid my company’s position regarding my crash or will arbitration become necessary? Stay tuned.

Buy The Book, Even If You Can’t Negotiate The Price With The Bookseller

If you are not familiar with You Can Negotiate Anything, get it, read it and use it.


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