June 18th, 2018

Did Winning the Deal Just Kill the Relationship?

The experience of selling our house has been a good reminder of the importance of goodwill in the negotiating process.

We were fortunate to get a couple of offers on our home. Hearing feedback from our neighbors and realtors, we learned that one couple with young children really loved our home, especially the trampoline in the backyard!

As we responded to the offers we made it clear to the realtor of a family with the young children that we really wanted them to have the house. Our children, now in college, were a similar age when we first bought the house. The neighborhood was a great place to raise kids and we thought it would be nice to “complete the circle.”

And that’s when the trouble started. Our counteroffer made it clear that we were negotiating in good faith trying to meet the couple in the “middle.” Except they didn’t. They stood their ground forgoing the traditional comprise an approach to pursuing a “we win, you lose” stance. As an emotionally charged seller, I can confirm that this tactic did not go over well.

The disconnect was that we were selling a home full of memories which we wanted to pass along to another young family. As the buyers, they were just making a purchase decision at the best price as possible. It was a transaction for them.  And with that, they took out all of the goodwill.

For example, the family was moving to the area from out of town. We’ve lived in the area for thirty years, 14 years in our current location. There are things that would have been helpful to know about our home, our neighborhood and our community. Our children attended the school their children will mostly attend. Played on the soccer fields, and in the school gyms where their kids will play. Insights from a resident on teachers, coaches, neighbors are usually helpful to someone new to an area.

Because they changed the rules of the game none of that conveyed. The relationship had been killed. Think about that when you’re negotiating a business deal. Deals are made between humans so emotions are involved. In the end, you may get your price but at what cost? What goodwill may have been lost? What could the seller tell you that could help with implementation, use of the product/service, etc.

The secret to a good deal is that both parties feel like they gave up something but that they also got something in return. You may feel good about the short-term gain — but by making the other party the “loser” it might cost you in long run.

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