Difficult Negotiators – Part One in a Three Part Series

Written by Suze, January 26th, 2017

Negotiation Skills matter.  In fact, I believe that negotiation is the most valuable skill that a professional real estate agent brings to the table in any real estate transaction.  It’s what we get paid to do.

Often, we need to negotiate with a difficult counterpart.  Interestingly, we get to choose our clients (and the better we get the more true this is) but we never get to choose our negotiation counterpart.  If our client wants to buy a house that is listed with a difficult agent or sell to a buyer who has chosen an aggressive jerk to represent them,  it is our duty to have the skills to manage that negotiation to an agreeable outcome.  Often, the other agent seems like a major impediment to a deal.  They could be stubborn, arrogant, hostile, dishonest or worse, so let’s look at some ways to have your client come out ahead even when the going is tough.


There are three fundamental reasons why “the other side” is difficult and I am going to cover each of these parts in three separate blogs posts over the next three weeks. They are:

The Accidental Hard Bargainer: I like to refer to this clown as the untrained negotiator. They are unaware of the effect of their actions.  They are acting without knowledge, skill, mindfulness or empathy.  Their lack of competence in negotiation and all things real estate can destroy a negotiation but if they represent the seller of the house your buyer wants as their home, you’ve got to know how to deal with this person effectively.

The Reluctant Hard Bargainer: This difficult negotiator is often being heavily influenced by some outside power. It could be their client or an advisor for their client.  It could be an unconscious bias or belief.  Heck, I’ve even seen it come from a coach or mentor who thinks that competitive negotiation has some merit. They are irrational, stubborn and it often seems impossible to get a deal done.

The Intentional Hard Bargainer: This is the trained competitive negotiator and they truly believe that hard bargaining is the most effective strategy.  They often have very sophisticated tactics, tricks and manipulations that could trip you up and we will reveal their secrets in week three.

This week we will explore The Accidental Hard Bargainer.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.19.01 AMThis untrained clown is rampant in real estate.  You can recognize this accidental hard bargainer as she will come across as over-confident, egocentric, and will have a tendency to escalate her commitment to a chosen course even as better options appear. Our best chance to reframe this negotiators outlook is to recognize their weaknesses and their biases early in the process and act strategically.  This means you need to be hyper calm, super aware and actively listening with every cell of your body.

Once you classify this problematic negotiator, here are three
strategies you can work with to help bring them around to a successful negotiation process that can produce the best outcome for your client.

  • Give them plenty of time. Negotiators who lack competence and confidence will usually react poorly under pressure and tend to make flawed snap judgments and then defend those unreasonable positions.  Giving them time to save face, reflect and consider their options may help them to think more rationally.
  • Model Good Negotiating Behavior. This will require you to manage your own emotions and not react with frustration to their style of negotiating.  Stay calm, listen actively, be deeply curious about their motivations, ask questions that don’t evoke defensiveness.  Work diligently to uncover their needs and those of their clients.  Use speculative style question to suggest possible tradeoffs that would allow each party to get what they want.
  • Avoid inducing tough statements from your counterpart. This negotiator will feel a strong commitment to her stated positions, even as they are proven wrong, so doing what you can to keep her from taking strong stands will be important.   Be deliberate in your conversation, build rapport, and set an example by showing respect.  A kind word or a complement can go a long way towards softening this negotiators stand and getting the best outcome for your client.

Recognizing the Accidental Hard Bargainer early in the process will give you the best chance to reframe their negotiating style and get a successful outcome.  Have some fun with this process and check in next week as we scrutinize the Reluctant Hard Bargainer – another frequent visitor to the world of real estate negotiations.

4 Responses to “Difficult Negotiators – Part One in a Three Part Series”

  1. Martin Steward says:

    Thanks Suze.
    Whenever I read your posts, I feel empowered, looking forward to using all the skills I am learning!
    Martin Steward

  2. Why always referring to the other agent as she! Are only women agents difficult I don’t thinks so. Mentors in first year would greatly help,maybe all agents could benefit from a structured course in communications skills ,like a full year progression,could do wonders for our profession .

    • Suze says:

      Hi Phyllis – thanks for your comments. I actually originally had he for this post but changed it to she so that I would have some variety. We all know that aggressive competitive agents come in all genders, shapes and sizes. I’ll keep mixing it up! As for mentoring – you are so bang on. Take a look at our program http://www.redcirclementoring.com

  3. Do’nt forget communication/listening skills,I believe most Universities offer such.I know I took one when I was teaching in Winnipeg.

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