While going through my continuing education course to keep up with Oregon's law for REALTOR®s every two years, I just finished several chapters on mediation.
As REALTOR®s, we face this constantly, and each case is different. Here are some of my thoughts about how to come to "yes" as the book "Getting to Yes Negotiating Agreement without Giving In" by Roger Fisher and William Ury tackles.
Fisher and Ury explain that a good agreement is one which is wise, efficient, and which improves the parties' relationship.
Mutual Gain Options: win-win as some would say. Each party has their own needs/wants. No one need be the only winner, compromise is inevitable.
Their four principles are: 1) Separate the people from the issues and problem; 2) Focus on interests rather than positions; 3) Generate a variety of options before settling on an agreement; and 4) Insist that the agreement be based on objective criteria.
The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.
Being Intuitive: i.e., What is it that's NOT being said? Body language, tone of voice, these are just two ways of paying attention to what is important to all parties. Listen with your gut, not just your head. What is it that the other party wants and may not be saying out loud? What triggers occurred that set them off in a direction of wanting more than what's on the table currently? Ask open-ended questions.
See it from the other side. This can be quite helpful in giving some insights as to what they really want, without your own agenda clouding it. Ask for reasoning behind other parties' suggestion(s), clearly see what motivates them. Who else is offering opinions that may muddy the waters??
"Leave your ego at the door" is one of my all-time favorite phrases
and can help in any relationship.
Brainstorming/Getting Creative: Sit down together, as a team and throw out as many ideas as possible. Don't judge, just use your imagination. Think about the other party, and what if you were in their shoes,what they would want. Write them all down...make it stream-of-consciousness without curbing your enthusiasm or creativity. You never know what may stick! Throw it all out there with no judgement!
Having a Carrot: As a seller, there may be items or services that you would like to use as bargaining chips, or a "carrot" as I call it. Furniture, a home warranty, lawn equipment; these are just a few carrots that you can hold out until negotiations get a bit more dicey and then you have something else to add to the pot, instead of throwing it in at the very beginning. It might just tip the scales in your favor.
Consulting an Outside Expert: Sometimes it takes paying for an outside expert to give an objective opinion about negotiating the cost of something that has become a stumbling block during a sale. For example, roof replacement. The home inspection shows that the roof is on its last legs. The loan company won't loan on it if the roof isn't replaced. Getting estimates, three is a good number, and looking at different types of roofing, comp vs metal for example, and comparing all of that, gives both the buyer and seller some clear numbers to work with based on an objective 3rd party. A roof can even be replaced and money held in escrow to pay for it at closing, if the seller can't come up with the money ahead of time, is a creative solution.
This may also mean using a professional mediator. This has become much more popular a choice in the last 20 years vs going to court. Not only is it less costly in time and money, but far less litigious. A mediator can change people from positions to interests and remain objective and unbiased.
Best and Final: When there is a lot of back and forth negotiating going on, it can get past the point of it just being about money, but can move into an emotional tug-of-war. Sometimes, to end that, a line needs to be drawn in the sand. "Best and final" means, this is the LAST that my client is willing to offer, and we are okay to walk away if this isn't accepted. BUT, your client has to be prepared to do just that, or else all credibility is gone.
Present and then SHUT UP. Silence can be very effective.
Sometimes it's good to walk away: Square Peg in the Round Hole Syndrome
Often, I can see when there is too much struggle going on, it's not the right fit. The good part about negotiating up to this point, is that you have gained some practice in how your client works in a stressful negotiation situation. At this point, you also can tell if you want to continue working with this client, or if this property is the right fit for you and them. Each transaction, even if it doesn't come to fruition can strengthen your knowledge base as well as showing your client what your skillset is. If it doesn't feel right to you, tell your client that! If you are really looking out for their best interests, then they will respect that. It shows that money is not the motivating factor for you, service and integrity are. Don't take it personally! Let it go and move on. I am a firm believer that when it's meant to happen, it WILL.
This is my credo. It can involve compromise, nuance, some assuaging, mutual gain, respect. And ultimately each person feels that they got SOMETHING that they wanted.