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Ten Things People Don’t Realize They Can Negotiate For

By Ed Brodow

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Many people are reluctant to exercise their bargaining power. In my seminars, when I discuss ways to expand your paycheck by negotiating, participants will say, “But I can’t do that.” After they observe my facial reaction, they blurt out, “You mean I can?” Even sophisticated business executives are bearish when it comes to what is — and what is not — negotiable. Here are ten negotiables you may not have thought of:

1. Salary. People are afraid they will antagonize the boss or even lose their job if they attempt to negotiate what they are paid. This is fostered by what I call “management by intimidation.” However, if the company values your services, it can’t afford to fire you for being assertive. And if they do, so what — you’ll find a better job.

2. Loan rates and approvals. Bank officers typically have some discretion when it comes to doling out money. If you are turned down for credit, be assertive and challenge their assumptions. Present your point-of-view in a positive yet polite way.

3. Income tax. The Internal Revenue Service is amenable to your ideas about what you should have to pay and how long you should have to pay it. The tax code is not always clear. Don’t assume that the IRS is intractable.

4. Professional fees. Your doctor, dentist, accountant, etc., may be willing to give you a discount if you are willing to ask for one. They typically lose a substantial percentage of their income to patients or clients who refuse to pay anything at all. Many professionals would rather settle for something from you than wind up with nothing.

5. Credit card fees. In most cases, charges such as the annual fee and even the interest rate are negotiable. If your credit card company won’t waive the fee, cancel the card.

6. Consumer goods. Most people don’t realize the extent of their negotiating power when it comes time to purchase retail items. Recently, Fox News followed me around a shopping mall with a hidden camera as I piled up a whopping $3,500 in discounts in just a couple of hours. The discounted items: furniture, clothing, appliances, jewelry, and cell phones.

7. Hotel rates. In addition to the rate offered to the traveler off the street (the “rack” rate), hotels typically offer corporate rates, senior rates, AAA rates, weekend rates, etc. Tell them what you’d like to spend — you may be surprised by the result.

8. Vacation packages. The printed price lists that you see are merely the tip of the iceberg. Salespeople in the travel industry often have lots of room to make deals, especially when they are hungry.

9. Funerals. Funeral parlors may benefit from the emotional trauma experienced by the bereaved when it comes to prices for caskets and various services. Burying your money with the deceased makes little sense when you can negotiate these items.

10. Divorces. Here again the emotional trauma often prevents participants from treating this like any other business transaction, which is what it is. Negotiation strategies — such as extreme offers, lowering the other side’s aspirations, setting high goals, and being willing to walk away — work just as well here as in other contract negotiations.

Ed Brodow Photo
Ed Brodow is a keynote speaker and negotiation guru on PBS, ABC News, Fox News, and Inside Edition. He is the author of Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals(Doubleday). For more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270 or e-mail [email protected] and visit

Copyright © 2013 Ed Brodow
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  April 2013