The Art of Negotiation

One of the many reasons I am so successful with my life is that I have studied how the masters of negotiation achieve spectacular results.


There are three rules you must master if you are to come out ahead in a negotiation.

Rule number one realize that the person you are dealing with is your enemy.

Rule number two find out what he wants.

Rule number three make him pay top dollar.

It’s as simple as that.

Recently, I flew to Arizona with my wife to sell her parents’ home, located sixty miles out of Phoenix in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains.

My wife’s father built the home out of his head and had enough wood left over to make a couple of sheds. He did not bother to make the sheds. As a matter-of-fact, for some reason her father did not bother to finish building the house.

The west end opens on a southern exposure. That end was left deliberately open so that the greenhouse, sunroom, jacuzzi and vegetable garden could be incorporated at a later date.  The ultimate Loggia.

Since both he and his wife enjoyed eating, he built a kitchen that flowed into the laundry room, the living room and the storage area.

They filled the extended kitchen with canned goods and various breakfast foods. As they took porridge each morning, they had a fine view of the desert from the southern exposure which (as explained) was left open.

Summer came and they couldn’t get the air conditioning to work effectively, (what with the open end on the house) so they moved to California where it was cooler and many of the houses had four sides.

The home in the Superstition Mountains remained vacant except for tarantulas the size of truck tires and scorpions no bigger than fire hydrants.

The first day my wife and I got there on our mission to sell the place, I threw away everything in the house to see how many rooms it had.

The next day I walked down to the small town and looked around for an enemy to sell the place to.

I asked the first fifty people I saw but they were all friendly.

Finally the fifty-first person turned out to be a possible enemy. His name was Pancho and he said he would buy the place for sixty thousand dollars. I told him I wanted eighty-five thousand.

When my wife heard that I had found a person who would give us sixty thousand dollars she screamed:  “It is a done deal.”

I smiled and pointed out that we had found an enemy and discovered what he wanted to buy. Two of my negotiation rules had been accomplished. “Now we shall force him pay top dollar,” I said.

“But if we have to fix this place up, it will cost us twenty thousand dollars and we’d be lucky to get fifty thousand for it then.”

Over the next two days I spent every waking hour getting to know the enemy, drinking with him, talking to his family, gauging his many weakness. I bounced his little boy on my knee. My enemy talked, I listened. I talked, my enemy listened. We laughed too loudly at each other’s jokes.

Finally on the third day we struck a bargain that seemed more than fair. I accepted his offer of sixty thousand dollars.

“What happened, Mr. Negotiator?” asked my wife as we left Arizona.

“That Mexican cheated. He became my friend. If only I could have kept him as an enemy I could have sold him the house for any price.”

A song about an old house.



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