I’ve created an eloquent post on this previously, which then got lost. Please bear with me as I try to remember the gist of the previously written post.
My guy friends constantly tell me that one of the most interesting traits about me is what I am not. They say visually, I seem like a stereotype of a tiny (being a size 0 doesn’t help) woman — light hearted (I read this as “air-heady” although they deny it), reliant on others, and probably submissive. Whenever I tell them some story on how I would stand up for myself, they laugh saying they doubt anyone would look at me and think I’d be an alpha, fighting and pushing back to represent my interest.
I wasn’t always this strong or forward but as I have gotten older, I have enough experiences that have taught me only I am interested in the best scenario for me. I push back and negotiate hard, whenever I deem stakes are high, and have come out ahead each time.
First time I discovered this was when I was accepted by my MBA program. I received a hefty scholarship package already, which is somewhat unheard of in top business schools. I was telling my friend from undergrad that attending that school over my dream schools would be much easier with more monetary incentives. She asked “why don’t you negotiate?” Huh, I had never thought of that! So I wrote a letter to the dean of admissions, restating my qualification and noting that while I would love to attend more scholarship money would make it easier for me to accept the admission. I had asked for additional $10k a year, anticipating that we will settle on additional $5k a year. I received a letter back stating all scholarship monies had been allocated to accepted students but I will be put on the list to receive any scholarships as they become available. In the meanwhile I was given additional $10k/yr of 0% loans. I accepted. A few months later I received a letter stating more scholarship monies had become available and I was given additional $5k/yr. For writing one letter, I ended up receiving additional $10k of scholarship monies and additional $20k loan at 0%. That is what I call a great ROI!
When I accepted my summer internship for a full time position, I again negotiated hard. When I couldn’t push the salary any higher, I started to push for sign on bonus, relocation costs, etc. I ended up with a package worth $20k higher than the original offer.
With the recent condo purchase, it was more of the same. Already my realtor had negotiated the terms hard for me but I negotiated further after the inspection report was available. Because the condo was old and no updates had been made in over a decade, I used these as areas of contention. I reached out to my inspector to ask for estimates to change the problem areas and received high level estimates. When I researched those specific issues, the estimates came in much lower. Even when the seller made it seem as if they were willing to walk away due to this cost, I held firm and made it known I would be willing to walk away due to the disagreement as well. In the end I was able to receive costs of my closing waived at a greater amount than the fix estimates.
I think often times we assume that certain items (like scholarship packages) cannot be negotiated. I regret that I didn’t think of negotiating sooner (like my undergrad scholarship package) and with all major steps in life I try to negotiate. One area that has really helped in negotiations is to know my range of acceptance (min/max) and being ready to walk away if that range cannot be met. I never would have walked away from my condo just because of those disagreements because it was within my range but pushing hard made me come out ahead.
Do you have any negotiation stories you would like to share? Any tips?