How to Negotiate When You Hate to Haggle: 7 Easy Steps

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by Ed

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Dread?  Cold sweats?  Itchy-burning rash?  Are these feelings you get when you're forced to negotiate a deal?   We sure do.  (Along with some Irritable Bowel symptoms that needn't be shared in polite company. Wait. Did we just share?). We are not people who like to haggle.  But we do it.  

We all know someone who loves the challenge of getting a deal. For them, every car purchase, every classified ad, basically everything that has some flexibility around price is a chance to flex that haggle muscle. 

We are not those people. In fact, I don’t think most people are those people.

So what is a “Haggle Hater” to do if they don't want to pay too much for the stuff you need? We've come up with some strategies that have helped our inner-hater buy everything from vehicles to stuff off of Kijiji. Here are our 7 simple steps for surviving negotiations...

1.  Know what you’re talking about. 

One of the glories of the Internet is that no one needs to go into a negotiation unprepared. You can find out retail cost and see how options/ mileage/ wear and tear or other factors affect the price of what you are buying. 

Before you even begin negotiations, you should know -within a range of prices- the value of what you are buying.  

For vehicles, the Kelley Blue Book is a great place to start. But really, there are comparable prices to be had on everything with a bit of Googling.

2.  Start with phone or email. 

Before you show up to wander around the car lot or look at those skis someone is Craigslist-ing, call ahead or email them to find out some details. 

Ask some specific questions that you have about the product being sold. This will help eliminate needless trips and establishes you as a buyer who knows what they are doing. 

Don't ask dumb questions (yes, there is such thing as a dumb question. People who say otherwise are trying not to hurt your feelings) or do that "lowball" offer thing. That undoes all the groundwork you've done establishing yourself as a knowledgeable, serious buyer. 

Get some information, but don’t commit yet!

3. Don’t Speak.  

I mean, obviously you’ll need to talk and interact somewhat, but when you show up to look over the product, take a test drive or whatever, keep as much to yourself as possible. If you like the colour, great – but don’t tell the person selling it that. 

There is an old salesperson axiom, “Whoever speaks first loses”. This doesn’t mean perfect silence is required on your part but understand that the person you are negotiating with won’t be giving up any information that they don’t have to - especially if they are a professional who sells for a living. 

I am personally terrible at this, so I have a character I call the 'silent, brooding husband' - SBH. No one knows what SBH is thinking and he likes it that way! His goal is to collect information and keep his damn mouth shut so that he doesn't ruin the deal.

4. Don’t be afraid to walk away. 

Unless the price is exactly what you were expecting (or lower), you need to be OK walking away. In fact, you should plan on it. Haggle Haters are usually terrible at the face-to-face stuff. 

Get a business card, an email address and Get Gone. You’ll finish this from the safety of your computer.

On our last car purchase, we let a month lapse between test driving the car and following up on the negotiation. In fact, the seller ended up contacting us again to check our interest - a great position to be in.  He called. We replied with email. Which brings us to the next step...

5. Hide behind your email account. 

Contact the salesperson from home using email. This is great for a number of reasons:

  • Most people have better poker faces when no one can actually see their face, so you’ll have that going for you. If I could play poker with a bag on my head, I'd probably win more. But I couldn't see my cards either, so that might not pan out.

  • You can also include links in your message to other, similar products being sold in the area if this will help make your case for a lower price.

  • You can suggest a price point and use hard line words like “I really can’t do any better than that.” We have trouble saying that in person, but I can type it without even flinching.

  • While you’re at it, email another buyer or two with your negotiation details and see if they want to play too. Hit send and wait.

6. Have to finish negotiating in Person? Email still has your back.

Many people will want to close the deal “face-to-face” or with “a handshake” or some other excuse to get you back there.

Print any emails you have already exchanged and bring them in a file folder. You’ll look intimidating and knowledgeable, and if they try to change anything you’ve already agreed on, you’ll have it in writing (which is again, always easier than saying, “but you told me that…”).

7. Know that both sides usually end up giving a bit.  

You may not get exactly the price you wanted, but neither should the other guy. Your goal wasn’t to totally shark the seller; just get the best deal you were able to, without the uncomfortable face-to-face haggle. 

If you get into that price range, that is a win for you. You also didn't have to develop an ulcer or a cardiopulmonary incident while negotiating, so a win there too.

We’ve done these steps in buying many things, including our last vehicle. We still cringe at the thought of negotiating, but our Haggle Hater steps make it easier than it used to be.   And our bowels are so much less irritable.

Do you have any tips to add to this list?


  1. So, these are good tips. I talk too damn much.

  2. Thanks for your suggestion!
    I love the way you guide us how to deal with negotiation even if we don’t love it at all.


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