How to Build Trust When Negotiating

How to Build Trust When Negotiating

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The Monday Negotiation Minute

Why is trust important in a negotiation?

Research in the social sciences has taught us that we respond to others in a similar way we feel we’re being treated. When others show us respect and kindness, we’re more likely to treat them the same.

If they are cooperative during a negotiation, we are more likely to respond in kind. If we feel they are behaving in a competitive, untruthful or suspicious manner, we naturally start to behave similarly and this starts a vicious cycle that can put any negotiation on a path of failure.

Trust is reinforced with positive social credit created over time. Unfortunately, in many significant situations we find ourselves negotiating – like the purchase or sale of home – we don’t have the time or opportunity needed to create the positive reinforcement needed for a foundation to a great negotiation.

How to quickly build trust

While it won’t be enough to form a meaningful bond, a few minutes of small talk over the phone or a few friendly email exchanges ahead of a negotiation could go a long way.

Better yet, an informal meeting for coffee or lunch will help build a personal connection that will aid in a more meaningful negotiation.

Northwestern University School of Law professor Janice Nadler found that negotiators who spent just five-minutes discussing issues unrelated to the upcoming negotiation felt more cooperative towards their counterparts, shared more information and made fewer threats when compared to pairs of negotiators who skipped the small talk.

How trust helps me daily in real estate

Personally, I’ve found that negotiating with other Toronto and Vaughan real estate agents who I’ve negotiated deals with in the past or that I know outside of the business, are more seamless, friendly and achieve better results for my clients.

This is even more important when we find ourselves on the wrong side of a bidding war, competing against two, five or even fifteen other agents for the same home. That built trust from positive past experiences helps me get more information from the other side, just when we need it most.

So next time someone tells you to skip the small talk, remember that you may also be skipping on your chance at making a great deal.


Ilan Joseph is a Real Estate Broker with Sutton Group and is co-founder of a 10-person award-winning Toronto, Thornhill and Vaughan real estate team. Since 2002, Ilan has been privileged to advise and service thousands of buyers and sellers, enabling them to reach their real estate goals.