How hard are you “trying” to negotiate more effectively? Do you “hope” that you can get better? Do you believe it “can’t” be done? Be wary of the simple words that you use when you negotiate. What you’re saying and what your client is hearing may be entirely different.
Last week’s article examined the powerful influence language has on negotiation. This week’s article digs deeper by explaining how a few simple words can completely undermine your negotiation process.
8. Eliminate the word “try”
The word “try” implies failure. For example, when you say, “I’ll try to call you tomorrow,” the client hears, “I’ll call you tomorrow.” What you meant to say is that you may call tomorrow, but you also might not call. If you don’t call, you failed and the client is angry. When you negotiate, say exactly what you intend to do. Never reference what you will “try” to do. Also, when your clients use the word “try,” pin them down. When a client says, “I’ll try to get back to you sometime soon.” Counter with, “Does that mean I will hear from you tomorrow?” If the answer is “No,” then ask an additional question: “How about the day after tomorrow? Will I hear from you by then?”
9. Eliminate “can’t”
Many people use the word “can’t” as a catch-all word that has several different meanings. Specifically, “can’t” may mean “I don’t know how to do that” or “I don’t want to do that,” Thus, when a client says, “I can’t see myself selling for such a low price,” respond by saying, “Is it that you can’t afford to (doesn’t know how to) or that you really don’t want to?” The key is to avoid arguing about the situation. Instead, asking a powerful question can help you become closer to your next sale.
10. Eliminate “but”
“But” is one of the most commonly used words in the English language, especially if two people disagree. As a result, “but” rears its head frequently in negotiations. In many cases, “but” precedes an objection. “We really like this house, but it’s too close to the school,” or “We know the market is slowing down, but we still want to list the property at a higher price.” People use “but” to give the impression that there is agreement, when in truth, they actually disagree. The challenge with using “but” is that it negates everything that comes before it. When you are negotiating, listen for “but”; it will help you to identify what your clients dislike and cope more effectively with their objections. In terms of your own language, substitute the word “and” for the word “but” to provide a more positive result. For example, instead of saying, “I know I should prospect, but it’s very difficult,” say, “I know I have to prospect, and it’s very difficult.”
11. Eliminate “hope” and “if.”
Both words are wishy-washy. Instead of saying, “I hope that we can find the perfect home for you,” be positive by saying, “I know we can find the perfect home for you.” Instead of saying, “If we get an offer,” say, “When we get an offer.” Clients prefer to work with agents who are positive, no matter how dreadful the market is. If you hear yourself using “hope” or “if,” drop the wishy-washy approach and make a bold statement — you know you can do it!
12. The most important word to avoid: “should”
Our society “shoulds” us to death. We should lose weight; we should prospect everyday; we should spend more time with our loved ones, etc. One of the most productive things you can do both at the negotiation table as well as anywhere in your life is to drop the word “should” from your vocabulary. When people use the word “should,” typically they are trying to manipulate you or the situation. Many of us use the word “should” to make ourselves feel guilty about what we are not doing. You may accomplish 20 things today and then beat yourself up about the one thing that you did not complete. To reduce the stress in your life, do this experiment for the next week. First, notice how often others attempt to manipulate you by using the word “should.” Be aware of the situation and then notice what it is the other person is trying to make you do. Second, notice when you use this word. Chances are you’re attempting to use power or manipulation to get someone else to do what you want them to do.
In negotiation, words carry only about 10 percent of the information we receive. Watch for next week’s article, which will address how body language can influence your negotiations.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.