Some thoughts on negotiating

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Repositioning an apartment building requires obtaining the consent of a huge number of people and institutions, from tenants to contractors to city inspectors and on and on.

This consent doesn’t necessarily have to be enthusiastic. But you still need it, because not getting it can screw up your project massively.

So, a big part of what we do is figuring out how to help people or institutions say “Yes”, when they could say “No”.

And a surprisingly large part of getting that consent is just simple human decency and compassion.

It’s about carefully thinking through what, exactly, you are asking someone, whether it is within their power to grant your request, and how painful consenting will be for them.

Then, it’s about crafting your offer in a way that anticipates and mitigates their issues and presenting your offer firmly but, always, respectfully.

Next, you have to actually listen to their response, because often they spot problems with your offer that you never considered… but they’ll only engage honestly with you if you’ve treated them respectfully.

Finally, you need to be willing to leave a little meat on the bone. By this, I mean that you should not try to absolutely kill the person against whom you’re negotiating. Once you get into a position where they’re prepared to accept terms you can live with, think VERY carefully before trying to push them again.

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