Haggling your way through sun-drenched markets in Mexico during spring break usually leaves you with a huge takeaway. On the one hand, you've accumulated heaps of trinkets, hats and towels for basically pennies (hello exchange rate), but on the other, you've had the opportunity to dust off the 'ole haggling skills (because we all know it takes some persuasion to get sellers down to those pennies).
What you may not realize, however, is that he who haggles in Mexico (or any other foreign country or flea market for that matter) doesn't have to stay in Mexico. In fact, the negotiation skills you put to use in these situations may lower your rent, help you ace a job interview and help your email to a top business professional stand out among the droves of others.
Lower Your Rent
Negotiating rent is something everyone should look into if they're renting from a private (or at least accessible) landlord. For example, if you're looking to live off-campus, it might be beneficial to look into an apartment or condo being rented by a single, private owner or from someone subleasing, because they will be more likely to negotiate prices in order to get their place rented more quickly. On a personal note, I subleased an apartment last year for 100 dollars less than I had been asking for, simply due to the fact that I was in such a hurry to have someone paying at least the majority of the rent. You can use this, and the techniques below, to your advantage.
Know The Market
No, you don't have to know the economic ins and outs of the housing market, but you should gain an idea as to the rental prices around your campus or where you're preparing to rent. What The Neighbors Pay, a section of the Apartment Ratings website, is a great tool that allows you to search rent and price demographics for certain cities, neighborhoods and complexes. Knowing the average prices for the area you're looking into renting allows you to have an idea of how low you can feasibly negotiate, and also helps you avoid paying higher than the average.
Also be sure to look into your landlord's market; knowing how long an apartment has been empty or how many empty apartments they have in the area can help you gauge how receptive they will ultimately be to your negotiation.
Time It Right
According to an article in Forbes, landlords are more willing to negotiate near the end of the month because it usually means the apartment has been empty for longer. As with my experience, renters are more likely to accept a lower price rather than risk the apartment not being filled.
Forbes also recommends to, if you have a lease, "start your negations early so that you give yourself enough time to find another apartment (or convince your landlord you could)."
"If you start too early, however, your landlord may simply find a new tenant to replace you," the article stated.
Now that you know the market and it's the end of the month, you can begin your negotiation. Roger Dawson, author of Secrets of Power Negotiating, said in an article for Forbes that "negotiators don't deal in reality, they deal with perceptions."
He goes on to explain that being comfortable going into a situation without a concrete outcome is essential, and to also be mentally prepared and confident in your pitch.
To begin, always ask for a lower price than you think you'll receive. This sets the table for compromise, which is really what the haggle is all about. Also be sure to explain your reasoning in a non-aggressive manner and avoid hesitant language, such as "umm" and "I mean," seeing as they make you appear unsure in your argument. If your landlord turns out to be uncompromising on the rent, Forbes also recommends negotiating parts of the rent, such as "asking for free parking or a fresh coat of paint."
Ace An Interview
Interviews involve mostly persuasion rather than negotiation techniques, as you're essentially asking the potential employer to buy what you're selling (you), which is why many sales techniques are useful for interviews.
Research and Empathize
Just as you need to know your market to negotiate rent, you need to know the company you're applying to in order to persuade the interviewer to hire you. This involves not only researching the basics of the company, but also the position you're applying for. Knowing the company and its current state and current events allows you to ultimately empathize with the interviewer.
The best way to do this, according to an article via the Global Post, is to connect the job to your qualities, making statements such as, "Your job description emphasized detail orientation, which is a quality my managers have always recognized in me."
There are many ways to connect with an interviewer -- with empathy, as listed above, but also with different nonverbal and verbal cues. You still want to avoid the hesitant language I mentioned earlier, since in an interview it would signal uncertainty regarding your qualifications. You can also build rapport by mirroring the posture and movements of the interviewer (not overly so, but subtly) and by maintaining friendly eye contact.
It's also useful to connect through complimenting, but rather than using generalized complements ("I just love your company!), try to complement a procedure within the company that you enjoy.
For example, a common question in interviews asks what you didn't like about your last job. A useful way to turn this into a positive statement and give a complement is to say something like "I didn't enjoy the overly pushy, out-of-date marketing techniques my previous company used, but prefer marketing techniques that develop a connection between the products and the customers through relatable copy, such as with the campaign your company used for 'so-and-so product' last month."
As you can see, the dislike of pushy marketing campaigns turned into a positive view of connecting through marketing and a complement on how the interviewer's company utilizes their marketing. Strong, specialized statements such as these create a powerful persuasive pull, as they're in-depth and leave little question in the interviewer's mind that you know the job you're applying for.
Stand Out Through Email
This is especially important advice to think about when sending emails or crafting any piece of written communication. Having an engaging subject line or opening line is an indirect way of persuading the reader to keep reading; if the first sentence commands drool and eye blur, you can bet the person you're trying to reach hit delete and took a nap instead of reading your proposal. This isn't to say you have to have an off the wall or weird subject line of an email; after all, you don't want it to be disregarded as spam, but you should pepper the first sentence of your email with an uncommon word or two.
A study titled "The Bizarreness Effect: It's not surprising, it's complex," found that "people were best able to recall messages when bizarre nouns were mixed with common words in a standard sentence," as Weibe summarized on her website.
The key is to make the subject clear with an uncommon word mixed in, or if you don't feel comfortable being a little bold with a subject line, save it for the first sentence of your email. Again, no need to go crazy, but do get a little creative. What would make you open one email over another out of the 20 emails asking the same thing or applying for the same position?
Vacations really do have the power to help you hone certain business skills, or at least bring them to light. In fact, gambling in Vegas can make you a master risk evaluator, financial strategist ... okay, now I'm going too far (maybe). Regardless, persuasion and negotiation are, indeed, skills that can save you shopping money or aid you in making more money, even if you've never used them abroad.
And to that I say, "happy haggling!"