Avoid Making The First Concession When Bargaining

Negotiating and haggling are difficult skills to learn, but they’re valuable in almost every situation. One negotiating tactic to keep in mind is to avoid making the first concession. When you do, you increase the chances you’ll make most of them over the course of the conversation. Make your concessions small, make them slowly, and make your opponent earn every one.Photo by World Economic Forum.

This and the other Open Forum tips don’t suggest that you don’t make concessions at all — after all, you are negotiating — but they point out that the person who makes the first one is usually at a disadvantage overall. They also say you should never give a concession without getting something in return for it.

Another useful bargaining tip suggested at Open Forum is to aim high. I had an old CIO who explained to me that when negotiating contracts, services or agreements, you should try to keep your “zone of opportunity” as large as possible — that is, the range of things you feel comfortable asking for and negotiating over. It’s also good to test that zone, especially in the opening stages of negotiation, by asking for things that you’d love to have but probably aren’t reasonable. Don’t insult the other party, but don’t be shy either. For example, if you know you’re not getting salary concessions when talking over a new job offer with a prospective employer, see if you can bargain an extra week’s paid holiday, or the ability to work from home periodically. You never know what you’ll get until you ask — within reason, of course.

What are some of your best negotiation tactics? Share your bargaining secrets in the comments.

You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate [AMEX Open Forum]

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