Reciprocation and Creating Value or Claiming Value Through Haggling

By on / Negotiation Skills

Adapted from “Master the Art and Science of Haggling,” in the August 2009 issue of Negotiation.

At this point, you have entered the realm of haggling: the dance of concessions that follows each party’s first offer. (In our TV negotiation, the $1,100 list price was the store’s first offer.)

For some, this is where the real fun begins; for others, it’s time of great anxiety. To manage your stress, keep your BATNA at the forefront of your mind. Knowing that you have a good alternative if the negotiation fails will help you stay calm and rational. Suppose the salesperson tells you there’s no way he can go as low as $900.

“I could come down $75 to $1,025, though.”

Note that this offers $50 above your $975 reservation price—the maximum you’re willing to pay to get a deal.

“I’d like to take the TV home today,” you might say, “so I’m willing to go up to $925.”

Rather than responding to your offer, the salesperson starts going over the features of the TV with you one more time.

Experienced negotiators sometimes take their time responding to an offer, aware that the other side could grow nervous and make a better offer, according to authors Malhotra and Bazerman.

But it would be a serious mistake for you to make an unreciprocated concession.

Savvy hagglers wait out their counterpart’s stalling tactics and insist on receiving a concession in return.

If none is forthcoming, thank the salesperson for his time. The mere suggestion that you are about to walk away could inspire him to come up with a counteroffer.


Build powerful negotiation skills and become a better dealmaker and leader. Download our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


Related Article: Dealmaking – Six Strategies for Creating Value or Claiming Value Through Haggling

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