Ask for Something You Don't Want, Then "Give" On It

Free Money Finance shares a classic negotiation strategy. Ask for something you don’t care about along with the list of things you do care about. When the other party counteroffers, you can fold on the point you don’t care about while sticking to those you do. Then they feel like you’re meeting them in the middle.

For instance, when buying a home, ask for, “1) Purchase price… 2) A long closing time and 3) Seller paid closing fees Item… Ask for a closing in five months and most sellers sitting on inventory will counter offer 2-3 months. Use this as leverage to keep your position on items #1 and #3 while giving in to #2.”

The same tactic can apply to many kinds of deals.

Great Negotiating Tip: Ask for Something You Don’t Want, Then “Give” On It [Free Money Finance]
(Photo: Getty)


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  1. LTS! says:

    There’s a few items that should obviously be mentioned along with this.

    Everyone knows the first points in a negotiation that fall are the least important. Adding additional layers of unimportant requests is no different than putting on two pairs of underwear in strip poker. It only makes people mad and it delays the process. Moreover, it’s all going to get called BS anyway.

    Secondly, you have be in a position to negotiate. In the article they reference buying a dryer. Sure, you might get lucky, but for the most part since Sears doesn’t care if you don’t buy a dryer because you couldn’t get free delivery. If you don’t have a leg to stand on then don’t bother negotiating unless you like the word no.

  2. Eilonwynn says:

    I 0wn3d most of my classmates just last week in a trading game (god bless anthropology) using this very same principle.

  3. ChrisC1234 says:

    It seems so stupid and simple… but I never thought of doing that. I’ll have to try it next time I’m negotiating for something.

  4. backbroken says:

    I have to admit this works. Last week I walked up to my boss and asked for a 100% raise. He responded that I could pack my things and get the hell out. We eventually agreed that I would continue working at my current salary.

  5. Joe B. Low says:

    @ LTS!

    Apparently you have never negotiated anything with a human being. In every single situation, both parties want something for free. At the very least, you have to assume the seller is asking for something more than their final price. If you don’t have something in your pocket to “give” you will be the only naked person at the poker table.

    Every time I buy a big ticket item I ask for 10% off. Usually they say no… but not always. This works especially well at Home Depot.

  6. LTS! says:

    @jkepler: Certainly I have negotiated… many times. In every situation, anything that is brought up quickly I completely dismiss and when someone looks for a reciprocal action I let them know just how much BS their option was and they will have to do better.

    It’s like trading multiple players for 1 in sports. My points are more important than your little “gimmes” and I’m not going to act all grateful just because you made that “honest gesture”.

  7. SOhp101 says:

    @LTS!: The squeaky wheel gets the oil. That’s all I have to say.

  8. Trackback says:

    FMF shared a great negotiation tip nearly a week ago (I didn’t see it until it made an appearance on the Consumerist). The tip is that in negotiations, you should ask for something you don’t really want and then surrender it in discussions so you can get the things you do care about.

  9. ShadowArmor says:

    Some people will fall for it, some won’t. Some people are so afraid of conflict that they feel totally vindicated if they can keep the negotiation going through just one concession. Hell some people feel bad asking for just once concession.

    There are also those who enjoy, and are good at, totally hammering their opponents. Its not enough to just get A,B, and C — they want to make sure the opponent loses his shirt.

    William Ury has a pretty decent book: “Getting Past No” which has some tactics for dealing with the hard ass type of negotiator.

    But of course, in negotiation, you have to have some kind of leverage. Sometimes, just being “the customer” isn’t enough. Being the customer who can walk down the street and get this deal from the competitor however… thats a different story.

    Personally I think the best weapon to use is silence. Some people are so uncomfortable with just a few seconds silence that they will act tough and suddenly fold. Count to 3 (with some people go up to 10) before you answer. You might be surprised — you get to about 7 and suddenly they have already countered themselves.