Bargaining – the art of questioning others and situations that wins

Have you had an opportunity to bargain about something in the last month? If YES, you are among the small group of people who ask for better conditions when trying to buy or win something.

Recently I needed rims for a second-hand car I bought for my wife. And I started searching in the list of local websites for options. Fast I got through more than fifty options. And they all looked passably. However, I wouldn’t say I liked the price or logistics expenses for getting the rims delivered by me. And I started searching for an option where the balance will be just as I see it. Obtained through the first list of options and divided it into three other lists:

I will go with – the list that I have to go through and contact the sellers

I will have in mind – the list that is like a second option for me in case I fail with the first one

Will be my last option – the list that contained sellers that I may have quickly passed away if not skip

With the three lists, I started communicating with the sellers. Of course, the first list looked full of people who knew the value of what they were selling. And with that thought in mind, I turned to them. But shortly, I understood that most people were not ready to bargain about what they were selling and were prepared to miss the sale if they did not get what they wrote as a starting price on the website. I even negotiated with someone who offered the rims I needed at a higher price than if they were new. Finally, after one and a half weeks, I managed to get what I needed at the right price and with some extras – new tires as a gift to the rims and transportation that would cost me nothing. It was a great deal, but to get to it, I had to take it slowly and balance the conversation for about a week. After receiving the rims and the tires, my neighbor came to see them and confirmed they looked very well. Then this neighbor of mine asked me how I got the complect so fast and efficiently. I had to explain to him the whole process, and at the end of my explanation, he shouted, “But you are so patient. I do not have the patience to wait for that to happen.”

After that conversation, I got again through my and my friend’s experience to look for similarities in the negation process about different things. And here, it was a pattern showing if I was meant to succeed or fail in the bargaining process. The thought led me to several basic ways repeated in different situations. And after carefully analyzing these patterns, I got to a simple formula of how a win can be achieved while bargaining about almost anything.

Walk in small steps

This first step may look obvious, but many people fail at it. If I were to ask for a price reduction within the 20-50% range, I could have died. It is just a mechanism that helps people to survive. They need to feel like winners, so no matter how you will decrease the value of what is offered to you, you need to do it in small steps. In this case, described above I started with 10-15% decrease prepared with some facts and assumptions I have built before. One of my arguments was that I am coming to take the rims by myself, which will save the person time and effort to send them by courier. With several more arguments and reductions, I finally got a decrease of 29% below the price listed. But I looked at the seller’s reactions to everything I asked. If he was unsure how to answer or did not have enough arguments, I used the opportunity to ask for something small.

Question and listen

Part of this second step is in the description of the previous one. But still, with so much written everywhere and explained by many experts in the field, people miss this second step. You will need to ask and listen to understand where you can reach in your bargaining deal. Asking has to be about what the other side shares about their status in the family, any things happening in their life at the moment, are financially stable, or seeking a quick bargain. All these are signs for you to structure your bargaining deal. The better the questions you ask are, the better the outcomes become. But asking questions is not a standalone action. It has to be structured around the topic discussed or the problem to be solved. Focusing questions around those two elements allows more efficiency in the bargaining process and clears the path toward more excellent communication. And while the question-asking process looks more evident, people often struggle with the second part of the process – listening. As the saying goes: “More people listen with the intent to answer instead with the intent to understand.” And this is also right for bargaining. Many bargains fail because people only see their position in the process and do not understand the opposite side’s role and function. The best bargaining deal you can achieve is the one everyone involved feels somehow a winner. If there are only winners and losers, then the bargaining has failed – whether the bargaining did not lead to the final result for both sides of the final result for only one of the sides. Bargaining that does not include enough valuable questions and that does not include both sides’ specifics is a failed project.

Start trading

You have it now – listened to all the questions and answered the questions you were asked, understanding the other side’s intentions and goals. Now it is time for the actual trade. The real trade or negotiation outcome is the result that will be satisfactory for all people involved in the bargaining process. Here is where you sell the value of your proposal. No matter what you need to achieve, you are probably planning to fail without trading value in the process.

Try to make it an easy YES

At this step, many people who have prepared the ground for closing the bargaining as a win-win solution actually win. With all the information collected and the tweaks you have made during the process, there is an obvious step to the easy final win for you.

The answer is YES, but only if you can sell the value for the other side. Good bargaining ends when you offer a winning solution to the other side, making them feel like winners. In my case with the rims I bought, at the end of the bargaining, I offered the seller three things: Help them get rid of the rims at the same time, save them time for going to a courier and send them on a long distance and eliminate the time for waiting to become the money from the courier after I got the rims by me and paid them. With these three wins at the end of the bargaining, I won a 30% discount and a complect of new tires standing next to the rims and meant to be sold with them. So the solution I offered the seller was more than acceptable for them.


There is nothing easy in the negotiation process. Too many things are defined as unknown in this process and can remain unknown until the end. But lowering the number of strange things and elements and boosting the value part for the remaining content is a good prerequisite for a good bargain.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s