I am not skilled at negotiation. It’s something I’m working on and I’m getting better. I was recently caught up in negotiation for work to be done on my house. It was a small job, but it tested me in several ways: My patience, my boundaries and whether I would stand up for myself when push came to shove.

Negotiation is a give to get proposition

On both sides.

I’ve been a homeowner for just over 10 years and since we built our house, it’s just over 10 years old. Shortly after our one-year warranty ended, we began having significant issues with our patio door screen. It’s not surprising. The screens that come with those doors aren’t the greatest. And you might have had similar problems if you’ve owned a home with a patio door at some point. It’s been an annoyance, but not a high priority.

I’ve gone many months when I completely forgot it was even an issue. That’s how it’s been on the to-do-eventually list for nine years. We decided this year’s the year we knock it off the list.

I have a handy husband, so he’s usually game for taking on these kinds of projects, but he decided to outsource. We give them our business and we get a working screen on our patio door. Give to get.

Simple, right? Ha.

Both sides need to be prepared to deliver or it will all fall apart

My husband kicked off the process by contacting Vendor A because it’s an entity we know and trust for other things. We’d heard some good reviews about some of their home services and felt the quoted price was fair. So, why not? Matt booked an appointment and told them what we needed.

The repairman showed up thinking he was going to replace our front door. He didn’t have the supplies to do the screen door. And, even worse, he didn’t have everything he needed to replace the front door. No, we didn’t need or want a new front door, but he came unprepared for the work he thought he was doing. It raised a big, ol’ red flag for me. They never even followed up after this mishap.

We weren’t going to get what we needed from Vendor A.

Do what you say you’re going to do – even in the little things

After things fell apart with Vendor A, we contacted Vendor B. They’re a much smaller, local business and I liked that. Matt contacted them, told them what we need and they gave a quote. The price was higher, but I’d already told Matt I’d pay more for competence. Besides, the price was still fair.

One day, out of the blue, Vendor B called to say they’d be stopping by in 30 minutes to have a look at our patio door to make sure they could do what we wanted. They showed up 90 minutes later. The work couldn’t be done that day due to rain (oh, this never-ending rain) so I booked another appointment.

Two days later, twenty minutes before the appointment, I got a call asking if we’d agreed to 9am or 10am. I confirmed it was for 9am and was asked if the appointment could be bumped to 10am. I agreed to the change. However, when he hadn’t arrived at 10:10, I called and cancelled.

Sometimes it’s better to walk away

When Vendor B didn’t do what we agreed on for the third time, I told them we wouldn’t need their services. He said three things in that call that confirmed I made the right choice:

  1. I’m on my way. I’ll be there in 15 minutes. (He was already 15 minutes late.)
  2. This is how home installations work. It’s not an exact schedule. (First mention of this.)
  3. You’re making a big deal out of nothing. (Sigh.)

I pointed out that if he arrived in 15 minutes, he’d be 30 minutes late. I also told him I would have been more understanding if he’d set a range of time in which I could expect him to arrive rather than specific times. But after he told me I was making a big deal out of nothing, I politely told him our conversation was over.

Negotiations are about give and take

In a negotiation, each side gives information about their needs and wants from the relationship. It’s an opportunity to have an open conversation about priorities, expectations, and boundaries.

Unspoken expectations and a lack of clarity will both kill negotiations. That’s why communication is so important. Each side needs to know exactly what they can expect so the wants and needs of all parties are addressed every step of the way so everyone comes out of the conversation with an arrangement that works.

Don’t take a deal just because someone else says you should, especially if they’re the other party in the negotiation. When your gut speaks, listen, and take time to get a second opinion if you aren’t quite sure you want to walk away. After all, if you don’t feel good about the end result of your negotiation, you haven’t come out with an arrangement that truly works. You want your efforts to bring you the right value.


Join us this month at the Wine Down and the Breakfast Mix and Mingle where we’ll be diving into the art of negotiation so you can feel more confident the next time you’re working on a deal.

Speaking of deals, my friends, we have an amazing summer special for the Wine Down running until July 10. Members pay $35 and guests pay $50 to go to the July AND August Wine Down. Come join us at Industria as we enjoy the summer before it winds down on us.

Karen C. Wilson, WBN President
WBN President, 2015-18
Senior Content Writer & Editor at Saba-Halogen Software