Hello again, I’m Kevin McKee from Thousandaire, ready to destroy Daniel in another one of our epic arguments.
Daniel is a great guy, but he and I don’t usually agree on much. Luckily I’m here to straighten him out. Okay, maybe he has won our last two arguments (according to public opinion), but I have a feeling this one is going to be different.
Daniel believes that if you want to negotiate well, you have to be a huge jerk. He claims that Hostility is the Best Negotiation Technique. Baloney! Everyone knows that people are much more willing to make you happy when they don’t hate you. It all goes back to an old saying from Abraham Lincoln:
A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal. So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.
In other words, a drop of money makes you money in negotiations. If you can make someone like you, they will be much more willing to help than if they despise you.
Being nice can get you free stuff when you don’t even deserve it. When I first moved to Dallas, I went to Potbelly’s for lunch. I had never been before, so I struck up a conversation with the cashier and playfully asked, “Is there a first-timer discount?” She said there was no official policy, but since I asked so nicely I could get a free dessert. Sweet! Imagine trying to get that free dessert by being a jerk. It would never happen.
A free cookie is nice, but what about when you are arguing with a company bad service or overcharging? The important thing to remember is that you can be nice and forceful at the same time. Being nice doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you. You do have to be persistent and escalate your problem to a manager if necessary, but at no point do you have to be rude, obnoxious, or hostile.
When I leased my last car, the dealership tried to get me to pay an extra $1,000 over what we originally agreed upon. They said I didn’t qualify for a $1k rebate that was included in my purchase, and I’d have to pay the difference. I could have gotten angry and upset, which would have made them try even harder to collect the money from me. Instead, I told them very calmly that if I couldn’t keep the car at the original price, they can refund my down payment and give me back the keys to my old car. I was pleasant but persistent, and in the end I didn’t give them an extra penny.
I will admit, I was 100% right in that situation. We had already signed the contract and they were trying to change the terms after it was signed. I could have gotten angry and still walked away without paying anything extra because there was a clear right and wrong in that situation, and I was right. It’s even more important to be nice when you are trying to get a customer service agent to fix a problem or credit your account when there isn’t an obvious breach of contract.
My high school girlfriend worked at the Sprint Store. They sold mobile phones and plans, and she absolutely hated the job. People would come to the store irate about overage charges or dropped calls or anything else they wanted to complain about. She was a salesperson by title, but she spent most of her days dealing with unhappy customers.
She was actually empowered to make significant changes to people’s accounts. She could waive fees, give account credits, get new phones for free, and lots of other stuff. But do you think she did any of those things for the people who came in and screamed at her? Of course not.
She would make sure the angry people left the store just as angry as they came in. She wasn’t going to reward someone for being a jerk. On the other hand, she would offer discounts and credits to people who were nice, even if they didn’t ask, just because she was happy to deal with someone pleasant.
Finally, Daniel can pretend that he believes being jerk is the best way to negotiate, but in reality he doesn’t even agree with it himself. Daniel prefers to ask nicely for a credit after a bad flight experience and his fiancÃ©e got free internet at a hotel by just asking nicely. Daniel pretends to be a big meanie-head, but in reality he’s just a teddy bear who understands that a combination of persistence and a smile on your face is the best way to get what you want.
So remember, Daniel and I will determine the winner of our debate via the number of comments, so post one here if you think pleasant persistence is best, or post one on Daniel’s article if you think being a jerk is best.
Also, feel free to check out some of our previous arguments below: