Ah, the joys of being mildly unreasonable.
I found a neat little shop with some great shirts, suit jackets, and gloves that all had a nice design and fit me perfectly. I wasn't going in to get a lot of stuff, but their pieces were really cut just perfectly right for me. I picked a lot of stuff out to buy.
When I was checking out shirts and jackets, I wanted to see how one would look with a tie. I picked up a nice skinny black tie off a display mannequin and put it on. Verdict: The shirt looks good with a tie. But hey, this tie is pretty nice too. But there's no price on it. Hmm...
I go to check out, and the girl explains to me that the tie is only for sale with a particular shirt - it comes with that shirt. That shirt, however, is ugly and expensive. They don't sell the tie standalone.
She keeps trying to take it from me and put it back on the mannequin. I say, "No. Look, I want the tie. How much for it?"
She can't sell it without the shirt. There's no way to ring it up. And the shirt is ugly and expensive...
"Okay. Give it to me for free, then."
She frowns. Starts trying to take it from me again.
Now this is where being mildly unreasonable comes in. Frequently I set a mental hard limit in a negotiation or to buy something. I walk away if I can't get it.
Sometimes I feel stupid afterwards, if we were within 10 RMB ($1.80) of price - I just didn't buy a Russian-style hat the other night when that's how far apart we were.
But the problem with always crumbling for small amounts is that it never stops. I say my hard limits realistically based on value. If I'm buying a hat that probably bulk wholesales for 20 RMB, then maybe I set a hard limit of 50 RMB (150% markup). That means I wouldn't pay 60 RMB, even though the end difference is small.
Lately I've felt kind of stupid as I've walked away from some really decent large and small deals because I put my final offer on the table, said it was final, and the person wanted a bit more. I hold the ground, purchase doesn't happen. This has happened in the tens of thousand of dollars range, and the $2 range.
But there is some real value in this approach - two things in particular. First, I can say, "No, that really is my final price," take out money, and offer it. I also recommend the line, "Look. I'm about to leave and not come back. By saying you don't want 50 RMB, you're saying you don't want money. Is that what you'd prefer? Not making money?" The reply is typically, "I want to sell, but 60 RMB is my price." I nod. "Well, I understand. But 50 RMB is my final price. I'm about to walk away. So you can say, 'I don't want your money' and that's fine. Or you can take it, and have the money, and I'll have this hat." I'll hold the exact amount I'm offering out in my hand and kind of shrug. Sometimes the person takes it, sometimes not.
But my decisionmaking is easy. It sucks to set hard limits and then constantly re-evaluate. It means your final judgments are never final and everything is always open for debate. That's not a good way to live, especially when you're buying and selling, negotiating, and trading a lot. At some point, the rubber has to hit the road - without the situation or terms changing, you don't deviate from your final analysis.
But the other advantage is much simpler. You plant your feet, you get a little demanding (but in a polite, friendly, impersonal, non-challenging way) - and oftentimes, the person finds a way to make it work.
I was about to walk off if they wouldn't sell me the tie. I was paying full retail on lots of marked up items. Saying they won't sell me an item in the store is just silly and not cool, when I haven't tried to grind out a discount or asked for terms or anything in particular.
I take the tie from the girl, walk to checkout, we ring everything up, and she points to my laptop case and says, "Put this in there."
I laugh. "You want me to shoplift it?"
Her English isn't good enough to fully get it, but she smiles anyways and gestures for me to do it. Not wanting to run afoul of the rules or be accused of any impropriety, I make kind of a big scene of placing my computer bag on the checkout counter, unzipping it, theatrically placing the tie inside, zipping it back up, patting it twice, and then taking it off the counter.
And so I've got a new tie. Sure, setting hard limits and holding them leaves you feeling like you walked away stupidly at times, but it also means you get you typically do get your way when you have a very reasonable request or demand.
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