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If I had a tattoo, it would read “Born to Haggle”

March 26, 2012

By Jamie Brazil,
Portland author of Prince Charming, Inc.

For me, bartering is one part personality, one part upbringing. My parents NEVER pay full price for anything, ever. I’ve been negotiating my whole life. My first trip to Tijuana, Mexico felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. Bargaining was not only embraced, it was expected. I love the rush of offer and counteroffer, but it’s not something necessarily associated with “nice girls.”

Guess I’m not all that nice.

In two previous Skills All Women Should Have posts I talked about what I wanted to share with my nieces when they’re older – changing a tire and stealing a cab – but this third skill is possibly the most important: negotiating.

It’s a skill many women either shy away from or avoid altogether. Think about all the negative-sounding verbs associated with negotiating. Haggle, dicker, quibble. Many women bristle when it comes to driving a hard bargain. Plus there’s the very real possibility of losing the deal.

Here’s the thing about negotiating, the negotiator runs the risk of pissing people off to the point where no one wants anything to do with them. I’ve had people walk away from me, disgusted with my offer (hey, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay). Yet the other week the shoe was on the other foot when I tried to sell an item on Craigslist. My prospective buyer set up a time and place to meet, and just before I headed out the door, she emailed a discounted offer. I admired her guts. This chick was brash and sassy. She reminded me of me. But guess what? I told her no, deleted her follow up emails… and didn’t sell her the item.

Here’s another negative word associated with negotiating: cheapskate.

Ultimately, the key to being a strong negotiator, at least in my opinion, is striving for BALANCE. Sometimes it’s okay to pay the asking price. Sometimes it’s better to get a discount. Feeling comfortable negotiating is a skill for smart girls. Someday I’d like to teach my nieces the art of fearless negotiating… of saying NO to an offer… and hearing NO back.

So here’s a cheat sheet for anyone who’d like to take a test run at this skill:

1. When in doubt, leave it out. Only negotiate for what you truly want, otherwise it’s wasted energy.

2. Buying or selling, ALWAYS be prepared to walk away.

3. If it truly is life changing (and I mean truly, truly life changing) go after it like a son of a bitch and don’t let anyone stand in your way. Pay full price. Or take a first offer. Just accept that life changing means you’ll be living with the results for a long time, possibly forever.

4. The best win is when all parties are happy with the negotiation.

5. Keep negotiating and honing your skills.

So, for whatever this post is worth it’s worth (pun intended) to you, you can pay me back with a LIKE on Facebook. Or make me another offer. In fact, the more you haggle, dicker and barter, the more I’ll like you.

Jamie Brazil is a former emergency dispatcher who discovered her love of writing while working night shift. She is the author of “Prince Charming, Inc.” and “The Mayan Sisterhood

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Discuss this article

anonymous March 26, 2012

I am so amazed at how many Amercians are so terrible as haggling and miss out.

Kay Stone March 26, 2012

Good to know.

Just Me March 26, 2012

Ask first, is it worth haggling over. Then set your price in your mind.

Heidi March 27, 2012

The Craigslist example is perfect. If you are selling soemthing, you are in control. Don’t let people box you in with cut deal threats or make you feel bad. Buying and selling is not about making people feel good. Remember that.

Janna Shay March 27, 2012

Like you I love to negotiate. Great post – very imformative.

Good luck with your writing. Loved both of your books.

Janna Shay March 27, 2012

Sorry about the typo (informative). Need to take a typing class.

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