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Remodeling Success Tips, Issue #012 -- Art of Negotiation
July 24, 2011

Art of Negotiation

Welcome to this edition of Remodeling Success Tips. In this edition we will be looking at the art of negotiations.

Most folks don't even realize how many times they actually negotiate during the course of the day. In construction, it is very important to be a good negotiator no matter what your role. When money is at stake, you want to be the best at presenting your point of view.

Table of Contents

Issue #012 - July 24, 2011
  • Art of Negotiation
  • Myths
  • Preparing for Negotiations
  • Starting the Process of Negotiation
  • Finalizing a Negotiation

Art of Negotiation

The art of negotiation as it relates to construction. Every construction project has different levels of negotiation.

Negotiating with oneself or family is at the very start of the process.

  • What are we trying to achieve with the project?
  • Who will it affect in the family?
  • Who will have input into final decisions?
  • How much money do we want to spend?

Each of these questions is really a negotiation if in includes more than one point of view. People negotiate every day; they just don't realize it.

The object of a negotiation is to have all parties come to a mutual agreement without polarizing each other. To satisfy more than one party so that everyone feels like they have won and not been cheated or taken advantage of is a difficult task even though we do it as part of our daily lives with our families, co-workers and other people we come in contact with.

This is why in many circles it is referred to as an art. The art of negotiation is one that needs conscience awareness of its existence.

In a construction project, after the initial family negotiations are out of the way, there are many that will take place. These will exist between homeowner and architect, designer and builder, between builder and material suppliers and subcontractors. It will even exist between architect and designer if both are on a project. It is not an easy process, but is necessary

Two important principles that come into play are ones personal freedom to make decisions and for those decisions to be treated with respect even if they are an opposing point of view. If either of these is taken out of the negotiation, the result will clearly be a long and arduous process; one that everyone would rather stay clear of.


There are also many myths associated with negotiating. Many people think you need to be a slick fast talker to be effective. You've heard it said before "oh he could talk a dog off a meat wagon or she could sell ice cubes to Eskimos." In reality, many people are good negotiators because it is their job to be so.

Realtors, salesmen, lawyers and a host of others need to be, but when we think of people in those positions, it is not always a kind thought. We think of them as manipulators, liars and cheats. Well although there are many that fall into that category, many more don't. The reason they are successful is that they are good at negotiating.

They learn to recognize objections and overcome them. For many people, overcoming objections is a built in fear mechanism. We don't like to push back so we rationalize it away. If you try hard enough, you can talk yourself into anything but the reality is that you probably will be less than satisfied with the results.

Preparing for Negotiations

It is very important that you prepare to "defend" your position. Having solid reasons behind your point of view will always serve as an advantage.

Write down your most important points so that during the process, you don't inadvertently leave out a very important reason that may convince the other side that it is the right way to proceed.

It is sometimes helpful to learn about the person that you are planning to negotiate with. Starting a conversation on common ground can sometimes ease into the heart of the matter.

Perhaps their children attend the same school or play in the same league as yours or perhaps you both fancy cars or a certain sport. These transitional conversations can "break the ice" before getting to the matter at hand.

Starting the Process of Negotiation

If you have been successful in learning about the other party, start off the conversation. Sitting down during a negotiation also makes everyone feel more at ease and signals to everyone that you are in it for the long haul and want to hear what everyone has to say.

Once the conversation (negotiation) starts, listen carefully to the other person position first. It is ok to bring the subject to the table but try not to give your point of view until you have heard theirs. This will allow you to look at their information while keeping your list in the back of your mind and creating responses.

While listening however, it is important to keep an open mind. If the person speaking makes a valid point, it does you no good to ignore it. This opposing point of view may just be the best course of action.

So while you prepare your responses, listen carefully to your inner self and be able to admit that your position on that particular matter may not be the right one. Going in being flexible will serve you well.

Even if you are in the power seat (the one paying the bill) it is usually never a good practice to intimidate or threaten. If you can avoid it, civil negotiations will take you much further and gain you more respect.

Finalizing a Negotiation

Whether you are negotiating a small detail or a large final settlement, it is good practice to repeat with all parties what was agreed to. After it appears that all have confirmed that they are in agreement, PUT IT IN WRITING!

There is no questions once it has been solidified on a piece of paper or email that states if you believe this to be inaccurate or in error please respond by......... this will finalize it.

Remember, good negotiators are not all cheats and liars, they are just prepared and believe what they are presenting and you should be too. In construction, negotiating in good faith with honorable people will generally generate good results for all parties.

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Happy Remodeling!

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