Planet Money on National Public Radio takes an aerial view of the government's "fiscal cliff" brouhaha via three different negotiating techniques – the issue isn't what each side is trying to get, but how each side might try to get it. The two hosts outline three different ways to persuade, and then use ordinary examples to demonstrate how we use the same techniques for quotidian affairs that Congress will use to decide the next phase of the nation's financial future.

There's "The Nibble," "Expanding the Pie" and "Disarming Empathy." The everyday example for the last is a former FBI hostage negotiator buying a new SUV, his explanation being "Get the other side to bargain against themselves... but you have to be nice about it." It's not for everyone, though – he called it "Master's level kidnap bargaining."

Have a listen to the show below to polish your persuasive technique, Mr. FBI begins at 8:25.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 14 Comments
      erzhik
      • 2 Years Ago
      Might as well try this at Chipotle.
      michigan
      • 1 Year Ago
      The way the current process works of buying a car from a salesman at a dealer is antiquated and should be taken out into the woods and shot
      nassau
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dumb. Typical of NPR and AB, "Aren't we cute."
      Vartan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I work at a dealership and I love stories like this. Just be smart and negotiable everyone wins.
      joe shmoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's actually pretty easy negotiating with car salesmen. But there is a chance element to it. You just have to meet someone who is hungry, a dealership that needs to meet a quota, low demand car, etc. People too often start by offering above web-published invoice price, and leave no room for savings. You don't need an FBI dude to tell you that you need to make your first offer below invoice
        calikev05
        • 2 Years Ago
        @joe shmoe
        It's pretty easy if you are willing to walk away and actually do it. Don't let your willingness to buy a particular car show. More often than not, the dealer will call you back a day later with a better offer. Go in the first day and do all your research and talk numbers. Before you touch any paperwork, tell them you need to sleep on it. Give them your contact number and leave. Salesperson calls back with better deal and you can start negotiating further from there.
      Relyat08
      • 2 Years Ago
      My friend told me about this yesterday right after it aired. I didn't actually listen to the episode myself, because I have to go to work in 2 minutes, but from what he said, it sounds a lot like something I would do. Not trying to pat myself on the back too much, but I am kind of known at my work as the guy to go car shopping with because I am pretty good at bargaining. I actually like going to the dealership and pushing their buttons. I know they will take advantage of me if I don't stand up for myself, so I don't feel bad about taking advantage of their need to sell cars. You do have to walk away every once in a while, but its pretty surprising how often you get exactly what you want by just holding your ground and threatening to walk away. The latest case is when I got my brother and I both fully loaded 2012 Fiats for $15,000 each, the MSRP was nearly $21k.
        Toronto St. Pats
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Relyat08
        LOL they can't give those away. Just kidding, cool story bro!
          HydraulicDragon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Toronto St. Pats
          Actually they're selling quite well, and they aren't bad cars. Are they a BMW? No. But not everyone is looking for a Mini.
          Relyat08
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Toronto St. Pats
          Yeah, it was a pretty cool story wasn't it! And Fiat's are selling about as well as mini's around here. I love mine and its better quality than the last couple cars I've owned. 30,000 miles in 9 months and I haven't needed anything other than an oil change every 8,000 miles.
      nsk
      • 1 Year Ago
      I haven't really understood the importance and attention given to the car-buying negotiation process. Yes, cars are the second-most expensive thing most of us will ever buy, and to that end, how much time do we spend talking about negotiating house prices? For people who can stand to walk around without staring at their shoes, car buying is time-consuming but easy. I think a lot of buyers are probably uninformed, afraid of having their offers rejected, or unwilling to potentially offend the salesman. Auto dealerships realize this, and more and more places are offering "no-haggle" prices which are actually fair. Then, dealerships make up for the relatively lower sale price by making a few bucks on financing, leasing, and add-ons. New-car sales isn't necessarily a dealership's main income stream... If you're wasting time "disarming empathy," you're not doing it right. I agree that car buying isn't pure positional bargaining, but it comes darn close.
      Fins99
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm a dealer who moved to a "one price" model 5 years ago...everyone pays the same price. You could be an assasin negotiator or a total idiot and get the same deal. We don't negotiate anything. 5 years ago I was told I would be put out of business becuase all the other dealers knew my prices etc...guess what. We have increased sales every year way above the market and the cusotmer satisfaction is the best its ever been. Most folks arent looking for the lowest bottom dollar in a 500 mile radius...they want a fair deal, not be ripped off, have a cleaer understanding of whats happening, walk away feeliing good about buying the car and not pay more than their next door neighbor. Yeah, people can get a lower price from the guy up the street, but they get my price in 2 minutes, my best offer on the trade in and a posted example of bank rates based on credit score...upfront. They go to the other dealer, the circus music starts playing and 3 hours later they got a $100 better deal. Yup, the hostage negotiator sure slayed the dealer.
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