How to Negotiate Anything!

Get yourself the best in boating.

Get a Boating Weekend With the Guys
Method: Appear Weak
Your wife made plans already, but sometimes the prospect of a couple of days off with the guys is too tempting to pass up. To get what you want, try giving her the upper hand and letting her think she’s making the ultimate decision. (In truth, she probably is.) Coming home from work, give off the appearance of extreme fatigue in hope of wringing a sympathetic look. Have a second martini before dinner to enhance the stressed-out appearance. Dinner conversation should focus on being overworked. Then, the kicker — a passing reference to a boys’ weekend and the need to pass it up due to prior family commitments.

Of course in real life, the wife knows when she’s getting conned, but you may still get a man pass.

Appear Stressed and Fatigued


Talk About How Stressed You Are

Mention Boys’ Weekend but Hint at Being Too Tired

When She Suggests Going, Say No Until She Demands You Go


Get the Best Price On Your New Boat
Method: Cool, Calm and Ready to Walk

Buying a boat is no different from buying a car. Do the research, know what you want and can afford, and have a blank check ready to use. The most important part of your strategy is being ready to walk out at any time. When you find the boat you want, calmly make an opening offer. If the salesman says it’s way too low, wait for a counteroffer. Never negotiate against yourself. Make another offer, still below your final budgeted number. If the salesman balks, that’s it; walk away, and wait for his call back.

Get Educated
Do the research, and walk in prepared and ready to deal.

Make the Offer
Presenting the first number starts the negotiation with the salesman on your terms.


Wait For It
Never negotiate against yourself.

Walk On
Your biggest weapons are your feet and the door.




Get the Kids to Clean the Boat While You Drink a Beer
Try an Outright Bribe:
“You clean, I drink, you get something really cool” — like an iTunes gift card or an extra hour of curfew. Kids will rise to the occasion with the right incentive. Know your kids and you’re home free, or almost free. They will make you pay up.

Get Free Stuff!
Buying a new boat? If reps won’t budge off the bottom line, try to get free stuff from the dealer. Say that you’ll take the deal if he throws in XYZ. You could wind up with cool water toys, a Coast Guard kit, dock lines or maybe even free winter storage.

Work With Body Language
Use body language to your advantage. Mirror your adversary. If the other guy leans forward on one elbow, so do you. If the argument gets heated, stop mirroring and “align.” Slowly make your way to his side of the table and sit down next to him. — blog

Keep the Right Distance
Don’t encroach on personal space, but sit close enough to show interest and engagement.


Arm Position
Open, relaxed arms show a willingness to negotiate.

Leg Movement
Busy legs show distraction and anxiousness.

Eye Contact
Strong eye contact shows engagement and strength, but staring is off-putting.

Read the Salesman’s Body Language
If he looks uneasy, go for the kill. If not, wait for his flinch.

Get Free Fish!
Many fishermen get carried away on a hot bite and bring home more than they can consume. If you see one at the fillet table, strike up a friendly conversation, stroking his ego about what a great angler he must be. After he’s cleaned a few fish, offer to help if he lets you take a fillet or two. He might give you enough for a fish fry.


Befriend the Salesman
Experimental research confirms that small talk sets the stage for an atmosphere of positivity, trust and openness that ultimately creates value. — Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

Reduce the Yard Bill and Get Your Boat Back
Control the Conversation

Charlie asked his yard to perform some engine work on his express cruiser. When he called to see if the boat was ready, he found out that somehow the job had grown and the final bill was 35 percent above the original quote. Charlie got his bill down without yelling or making threats, but by the simple art of conversation. Here’s a quick rundown on what happened.

Start With Idle Chatter
Charlie walked in and started with small talk about the weather, the owner’s kids and the usual “How’s biz?” questions. People like to talk about themselves and their business and appreciate empathy whether it’s been solicited or not. With this conversation comes bonds of familiarity, and Charlie was soon working his bill from the role of confidant, not adversary.

Move on to the Final Bill
Charlie then brought up the discrepancies, never raised his voice, never threatened and kept his cool. They discussed each item, and with gentle prodding, he got the shop to lower some of the charges that were a bit excessive, although the owner also emphasized that the yard policy was to replace questionable parts to prevent future problems. A compromise was reached.

Make It Clear That You are Not the Final Decision-Maker
Pick someone to be the “CEO” who is allegedly empowered to give the OK — your wife, your best friend, your pet Fido. Hold up on negotiations to “call and check” to break the rhythm and gain a better position. — Michael Wheeler, Harvard Business School, Program on Negotiation


Sometimes a Tag-Team Approach Is Needed to Reach Closure
The first cohort of negotiators may settle some important issues but run out of gas when it comes to others. Changing the lineup may be especially useful if early negotiators have limited authority. — Michael Wheeler, Harvard Business School, Program on Negotiation

Call Ahead on Sleeping
Forgot to call and no room at the inn? When the marina is chockablock full, a cold brewski or a crisp “Jackson” pressed into the right palm could get you a night at the fuel dock — better than doing 360s around the harbor entrance until sunrise.

Get a Better Insurance Payout
Method: Ask for the Moon; Settle for Orbit

One of the guys in my marina cut too close to a day marker at 23 knots and banged up his port bow rail. He reported the incident to his insurance agent, who sent a surveyor and offered $1,775. The yard estimate was $3,356. He called the agent, asking for complete coverage. This gave him room to negotiate downward. The discussion went back and forth and, as the concessions by the insurer got smaller, he knew it was time to strike a deal. The final settlement for $2,800 included all new parts plus some cosmetic fiberglass work.

**Talk Your Way Out of a Ticket
Blame the Kids **
Some areas of the country have a confusing array of no-wake and restricted speed zones. You may be on plane thinking “Am I 200 feet from shore?” when suddenly the flashing blue lights appear behind you and you are at the mercy of a water cop. If you have kids on board, claim a broken head and a desperate need for relief at the marina. The wife should also start crying, because conventional wisdom states that a few tears are the best way to garner a warning.

Act Confused
With no kids on board, your best bet might be the oldest of tactics: Act confused, saying “Sorry, officer. I thought I was out of the no-wake zone” or “Isn’t that only during manatee season? It’s manatee season? I had no idea!” The actual rule of the road, which the cop might gladly share with you, is that ignorance of the law is no excuse. But sometimes, if you seem nice but just dumb or naive enough, and also earnest enough, the cop just might give you a warning.

Try Honesty
There’s nothing wrong with contrition, and the admission that you made a mistake. You could say, yes, you were speeding, or yes, your flares are expired or you forgot your throwable device. Some officers of the law will appreciate your honesty. And if you play off your candor with a healthy dose of regret, you might get off with a warning and a reminder to slow down and pay attention to the posted signs. (We should all be mindful of no-wake zones anyway.)

BTG1011_NEG_5 He is kidnapped or he knows a big secret and can’t speak about it?

** ****Silence is Golden**
Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause that goes on and on and may at last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously. — Lance Morrow