Deal Killers: 5 Phrases to Avoid When Negotiating
To the uninitiated, the process of negotiating can often seem stressful. Sellers get defensive about their prices; buyers hesitate to haggle for a better deal. In this potent of mix of awkwardness, we toss out phrases that don’t do us any favors and offer information that can hurt our chances of coming out ahead. Whether you’re new to negotiating or haggling is old hat, avoiding a few phrases can make all the difference. (See also: Why Women Don't Negotiate)
1. “I Haven’t Done Much Research, but…”
Researching value helps sellers determine a fair asking price. For buyers, research informs the purchasing decision and prevents over-paying. Whatever side of the negotiating table you’re on, operating without information (and worse, confessing it) puts you at an immediate tactical disadvantage and shows that you’re not prepared.
2. “Somewhere Between…”
I’ve always wondered why sellers offer a range of sales prices to a buyer. I have yet to meet a buyer who opts for the higher end of the range (if you know of one, please send him my way). Instead of pricing that used bike “somewhere between $100.00 – $150.00,” just settle on a specific price and go from there. Buyers, take the same advice. Begin your negotiation with a reasonable number and avoid broad and gray areas.
3. “How About…?”
Negotiation is a bit of dance. In it, each person makes an advance and then retreats, offers and counter-offers. I’ve always found it best to form my offers as statements rather than questions. It’s a fine point, but saying “how about $100?” seems to invite a counter-offer more easily than saying “I’ll give you $100.00.” That doesn’t necessarily mean $100.00 is my final offer, but a statement draws a verbal line in the sand better than a question.
4. “Let Me Get Back to You.”
Besides major negotiation deals like salary, homes, and cars, be prepared to seal the deal on-the-spot or walk away if you’re not comfortable. Since negotiating happens in real-time, don’t assume a deal or agreed-upon price-point will be valid tomorrow or the next day. Offering to get back to a seller is typically seen as a de facto “thanks, but no thanks” anyway, and it leaves the door open for other buyers to swoop in and steal the deal.
5. “I Haven’t Got Any Cash on Me Right Now, but…"
Buyers, this might be the worst thing you can say to a seller that you’ve been haggling with for 45 minutes. Unless you’ve just stumbled on a random sale or very recently been pick-pocketed, you should have cash on-hand and be ready to make a deal happen. Resorting to this phrase communicates one of two things to the seller:
- I’m mildly interested, but afraid to pull the trigger, or...
- I’m chronically cash-poor and will probably never be able to finalize the deal.
In either case, you’ve wasted at least two people’s time.
Some might say it’s just semantics, but when it comes to the art of deal-making, words make all the difference. So the next time you find yourself in friendly game of haggling — whether as buyer or seller — improve your chances of getting a killer deal by avoiding deal-killing language.
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