Recent Posts

January 02, 2009

Lessons from two negotiation pros & one pool expert

January 2. Day 186.

I had brunch today with I&J, two friends I visited in New York a few months ago. I'd always suspected they were negotiation pros, based on snippets of conversations we had about securing the best price on a house they were considering, and their general money savvy allure. But I never knew the extent of it.

J took just cut $400 from their monthly rent, a day after signing a new lease on a two bedroom. By asking.

"The day after we signed the lease," he explained, "I was looking at their website again, since I'm kind of a Curious George. I noticed that units that were very similar to ours were listed for a lot less. One of them could have been on our floor, that's how much it resembled ours. Our agent was kind of sketchy -- it's a great firm, very respected and reliable, but he left a lot to be desired. No company wants to give you the best possible deal, they're all out there to make a profit, but this was outrageous."

So J called the owner and put it this way:

"For a company that claims to be honorable and have the client's best interest at heart, your agent's behavior goes entirely against that. It doesn't strike me as a good idea to do business this way."

He was calm and courteous, but his mild manner masks a ruthless sang froid.

The owner heard him out, and then said he's right. Then, she told him to suggest a fair figure, or get back to her.

"I told her I'd get back to her."

Damn -- he didn't even act grateful and try to conclude the awkward conversation ASAP, which is what I would have done. He waited, milked it. Day-yamn.

Then, he came up with a $400 reduction that was very close to the other prices but did, nevertheless, penalize himself for having already signed the lease. Fair to the bone.

Gained: $4800 over 12 months!!!

Next, I told me about her career exploits. She's expecting a baby girl, and her company has zero maternity leave. She's also trying to set everything up so her work life is as rewarding -- and compartmentalized -- as possible.

Her list of wants:

"I want a raise. I want a promotion. I want three months off, paid. And I want to work four days a week after I give birth, but get paid for five."

I asked her how she's going to go about this. Confident, sassy, and again perfectly calm, she explained that she's been talking to her boss about the promotion and raise all year, kissing up to an HR harpie who stood in the way of the promotion last year. She already secured the 4-day workweek, promising to work 40 hours Monday through Friday.

"Men play golf on Fridays. Come on," was her pitch.


As for maternity leave?

"It's wrong for such a big company to ignore women's needs like that. I told them, 'If you want to make it seem like you care about women in the workplace, you have to offer maternity leave.' "

No answer yet.

Gained: One out of four. Even if she ends up with half of what she asked, it will be a lot more than anyone who sticks to her cubicle. I will report back once I find out how her endgame negotiations played out.


If only, if only I had something to negotiate like that -- in the big leagues. But I'm a grad student!!! I signed a new lease that was, happily, already $200 below market value, and managed to get rid of the wallpaper and add a few days to the move-in date for free -- but nothing in that scale.

PLEASE, asking gods, send some big transaction my way. Just, nothing morbid. Not interested in arguing down hospital bills. Knock on wood.

Tonight I ended up at a bar with Mr. A and played pool. One guy was blowing everyone else out of the water, so I walked over when he was taking a breather and asked him to teach me how to break.

He gave me some really good tips: Hold the cue from the back, so you get more strength. Break from the middle of the table, unless you really know what you're doing (or you'll scratch). Use your left hand in a way that minimizes friction. And, most important, follow through: don't poke/jab, but thrust. Lean into it.

Gained: Strategy lessons.
blog comments powered by Disqus