[Negotiation Etiquette] Highballing and Lowballing

If there’s one common theme running throughout this etiquette series, it’s the DBAD concept: Don’t Be A Dick. That might be difficult to navigate when negotiating the price of anything from a cheap action figure or vehicle to salary because most people want a good deal. Markets change and the value of a vehicle or marketable skill can depreciate greatly. Let’s explore, among other ideas, three examples of successfully or unsuccessfully paying the asking price.

I respect the sticker price at flea markets or garage sales for one or two items. If I’m buying a bundle, I might ask for a small discount of a dollar or two off.

The Beast Man shown above, centered, was in a bin at Renton City Retro for not much less than retail. I chatted with the seller about the Loyal Subjects line, asked if this was the rarer variant, wasn’t, and said that I’d think about the price and return. He presented a discount significant enough for me to remember. Don’t be afraid to walk away.

If there aren’t clear prices, know how much you want to pay upfront. Know the market value, be respectful, and don’t be afraid to state your price quickly. I found two oddball items at a recent estate sale: “Oh, I don’t know how much this one is…” “How about $10 for both?” “Um, OK. If you see the guy in the red jacket say you paid $25.”

We were selling a vehicle years ago. Between twelve photos and cheap price, we received dozens of responses, including a memorable email asking: “what’s the lowest you’ll take on this?” Their signature braggingly said “sent from my iPad” back when they were new. I tacked an additional $100 DBAD fee. We sold it to someone polite.

Here’s a secret: understanding one market or behavior enables you to understand others.

Salary negotiation in the job market is like negotiation in any other market. Your skills, X, are worth a certain price to most businesses, just like a product, Y, is worth a certain price to most buyers. Think of “in excellent condition” like “education and experience.” Selling your skills or wares is confidently knowing yourself and the market.

If you’re selling something for $10 and someone throws $2 at you, you could laugh it off, until you’ve lugged it around for five years. Without knowing the market, you’re stuck highball selling something that isn’t even worth $2 now, or left trying to lowball buy something for under $200 that might only be worth $10.

Doing well in any market, then, is just a matter of practicing two main skills:

Hard skills, or knowing the technical details in how something works like markets or a skill, can be practiced in online videogame marketplaces for buying, selling, and negotiating in a low impact environment. The summer garage sale season is coming up. You can rent a table at a flea market and there’s always craigslist for the long game.

Soft skills can be summarized best by remembering basic etiquette and: DBAD!

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