Who makes the first move in negotiating?

I’ve been casually looking in resale shops and Craig’s list for a particular style of bedroom furniture for awhile—1960’s mid-century modern. I don’t neeeeed this and it’s an expense that’s not as pressing as dental work and car repairs so I don’t want to spend much in this area.
Yesterday, I found a seller who told me via email that she will show by appointment and can help find me a set. All she needs to know is how much I want to spend. Of course this is a reasonable question. But I struggle with a reasonable answer. Which in a roundabout way brings me to today’s word: negotiating.

Negotiating is like attending a high school dance. Parties are split and no one wants to make the first move for fear of rejection. Both sides see the other as the person of power.

But who makes the first move is critical to the outcome. Psychologists have found that whoever makes the first offer usually comes out ahead. In an example shown in Psychology Today when parties looking to buy a factory made the first offer, the sellers ultimately agreed to a price of $19.7 million. On the other hand, when parties looking to sell the same factory made the first offer, the buyers ultimately agreed to a price of $24.8 million.

The first offer anchors the negotiation with a starting point. Even though each party may come to the negotiation with a predetermined value, they will work with the offer first laid out, even if it is far off from their expectations—within reason. But the play of negotiating is to counter offer. Always expect that your opponent will attempt to work the bidding toward their predetermined value.

You must have some idea of the value of whatever it is you are negotiating. In the case of my furniture, I have researched the value of these items and should be able to present a reasonable price, but I won’t give the seller my highest price.

So if you are negotiating a hiring salary, go ahead and ask for a bit more than you expect. Just keep it to a reasonable amount in order not to be laughed out of the interview. Then expect that you will be offered less than your asking salary. The key to getting what you want is to make the first move.


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