Dear Zuess,

I’m trying to get this deal done, but the agent on the other side is being so difficult my clients just want to walk away and find something else to buy. She doesn’t return messages or emails until hours later. When she eventually does, it’s always difficult to communicate with her: she gives one-word answers and gets very moody. My clients are willing to pay a great price for this property, but the other agent simply won’t budge on any other terms. We need some room for compromise to close this deal. Help!         — Emilio

Hi Emilio,

Thank you for writing. Unfortunately, I am hearing this more and more often. It sure makes it difficult to create collaborative, win-win outcomes when one of the negotiation counterparts is being highly combative. We call this style competitive negotiation and it is a sign of a poorly trained negotiator.

Your best chance at successfully getting this property for your buyer is to become a smart negotiator.

You need to convince the other agent a collaborative approach will work out better for everyone. She believes her competitive, hard-nosed approach is beneficial to her client, and you won’t be able to change that by telling her she’s wrong—in fact, calling her out will only escalate her poor behavior.

To bring her around, you’ll have to call upon what we like to call “Collaborative Tactics”. In the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)® course, we laid out the 8 Collaborative Tactics commonly used in real estate:

It’s amazing how well these relatively simple approaches are able to bring aggressive people around.

First—and most importantly—start by asking questions. Question Tree

If you do this right, it will evoke the other collaborative tactics. Your questions need to come from a place of curiosity–be careful they aren’t the types of questions that will elevate competitive or combative attitudes! Authentic questions based in curiosity and respect will almost always guide both parties towards collaboration. Here are some examples of elevating questions (the kind you don’t want to ask) and powerful questions (the kind you do want to ask):

Elevating Question: “Do your clients want to lose this offer over the closing date?”

Powerful Question: “Thank you for sharing that information. If we could find a way for your client to close on this date, would this offer work for them?

Elevating Question: “If we can’t find a way to communicate, we are going to lose this deal – is that what you want?”

Powerful Question: “If we could find a way to satisfy both your client’s needs and mine, and make a deal that makes everyone happy, would you feel good about it? … Great, let’s find a way to make it happen.”

Elevating Question: “Why are you being so difficult?”

Powerful Question: “I know you are doing your part to protect your client and I appreciate that. If we could find a way to get your client’s house sold for a price and terms that work for him, would he be happy?”

Business Agreement

Asking powerful questions comes from a mindset of curiosity.