Teaching My Son the Art Of Negotiation

by Travis Pizel · 12 comments

Skillful negotiation is a great way to save money — if you do it right.

Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it. Confrontation and conflict make me uncomfortable, so my goal is usually to complete the deal as soon as possible. But that didn’t stop me from trying to at least teach the basics of negotiation to my son.

Having completely made the move to PC gaming, my son no longer wants his Xbox. Together, we assembled the console, accessories, and games for a photo to put on Craigslist. Based upon what other Xbox systems were selling for, we priced his package at $200.

We had our first potential buyer less than 24 hours later.

The Offer

The gentleman offered us $150 cash for the system. I explained to my son that he was emphasizing a quick sale with cash, in hopes of appealing to our desire to unload the system quickly — as well as get the system in his hands before other buyers could respond.

It almost worked.

The Counter Offer

I barely got through my explanation before my son was telling me to accept it. I then asked him to think about what the chances were that someone else would offer him more than $150, or even full price. I suggested we counter with $175, to which he agreed.

The Deal Falls Through

The following morning, the gentleman responded that $150 cash was his final offer. After talking with my son, we decided to decline it.

It’s now been over a week, and we haven’t received any additional interest in the Xbox.

My son is getting frustrated, but I keep reminding him that he doesn’t need the money. He’s simply trying to sell the system since it is only going to decline in value. We can wait for a buyer to give us full price, or decrease the asking price in a week or two.

I’m not the best negotiator, but I do know that the key to getting what you want — whether you’re buying or selling — is patience. If the offer isn’t what you’re looking for, move on; another one will come along eventually.

Have you ever tried to teach someone the art of negotiation?

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  • Kiat says:

    I think negotiation is a life skill, if possible should enrol him in some kind of courses to let him learn more.

  • Karen Peatt says:

    Great skills I’m 30 and still learning. Did he sell the xbox yet?

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Unfortunately not, Karen…we thought we had another bite, but the guy would never agree in actual written email (even upon repeated asking him to do so) to the price of $200 – or any price for that matter. Then he just stopped responding. I can only wonder if he was going to show up and offer me some smaller amount of money, or try to rob me? Who knows…we’ll keep trying!

  • David Ning says:

    You should really develop a game plan before you start selling. What price is acceptable to you and your son? Will you always counter? That way it’ll be easier for your son (and you too) to handle the emotions that comes with each negotiation.

    But don’t worry about not finding a buyer, as you can always sell the lot on eBay.

    • Good point, David. We did set the price point at $200 because that’s what he really wanted out of the system. And we did talk about reducing the price by $20 if it didn’t sell within a couple of weeks. But we didn’t talk about how low he’d be willing to go. Great advice – and it’s not too late to have that conversation!

  • That’s a hard thing to learn, but it’s awesome that you’re teaching him that so young. Hopefully, as an adult, the skill will benefit him!

  • Bryan Logan says:

    My guess is that wasn’t the guy’s final offer. You go to meet him, and “Oh, the ATM wouldn’t let me get $150 out, but I have $125 right here. Sorry, there’s nothing else I can do.” His hope is that you think, “Eh….it’s only $25” and not hoping you realized you already gave him $50.

    But these people are everywhere. When we sold our first house, we had an immediate offer in 3 days. For $30K below asking price. The guy must just call on every listing and offer that since he knows he can probably flip it for easily $15K below asking and make an easy $15K.

    The hard part about teaching negotiations to my kids is making sure they’re negotiating fair. The older one could get away with great deals if we let her take advantage of the younger one’s willingness.

    • David Ning says:

      The guy then offering $125 would tick me off if I were Travis, but I guess I can’t blame him for trying to get the best deal he can.

      Have you considered letting your children negotiate on their own and let the older one get the better deal for a few times? You can then teach the younger one what happened, which might be better off than trying to stop it before it happens.

    • You may be right, Bryan – I’d be steaming if that happened. I can honestly say I would remember we had already discounted the price, and walked!

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