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Tell me why…

Horace McDonald
Negotiation Bed [Converted]

Having become empty nesters when both our grown-up children left home in the middle of 2022, my wife and I are remodelling the house for different needs, which is something we’ve always enjoyed. We’ve replanned how we are going to use the kids’ bedrooms and some of our furniture is now redundant. We’d inherited a rather unusual, but very useful single bed from my mother-in-law, which had another single bed nested underneath it that could be wheeled out to turn it into a double. The lower bed needed to be managed with some caution, as there was no mechanism for locking the spring-loaded legs, and I’d suffered more than once when one of the legs shot out at me whilst manoeuvring it.

We’d been through a gamut of options of how to get rid of the bed and the two (nearly new) mattresses, including The British Heart Foundation (who’d refused to take a table some years ago because it wasn’t in pristine condition); the local council who take stuff away for a fee; or selling it via the Nextdoor app. However, we were both keen for it to go to someone of real need and we preferred to give it away, which is what my wife’s parents would have wanted.

So, I ended up posting on Freecycle. The unusual thing about Freecycle is that it doesn’t work via an app, so having posted the bed on the site at midday, I’d expected to receive a bunch of texts, but it wasn’t until I checked my ‘partially hidden’ emails later in the afternoon that I saw the many responses. My first instinct was to give the bed to the first respondent, but thought best to read all eight emails. Most of the responses were fairly perfunctory, but one, from Vera, caught my eye. She explained that they couldn’t afford to buy a new bed – BINGO - and ended their message with 2 ‘Please let me know’s! A clear example of the power of persuasion in resolving the conflict I had about who to select. On calling Vera, it became obvious to me that she had no access to transport, so knowing that van rental prices are very high in our area, I offered to deliver the bed (on the proviso that I could get it in the car).

Whilst this was not a negotiation, Vera employed a tactic akin to an ‘Opening Statement’, which we consider vital at the start of a negotiation where each party outlines their objectives, how they see them developing, and may use it to outline areas of flexibility and in some cases inflexibility or no-go areas. In her email, Vera let me know how much she wanted the bed (not always appropriate in a negotiation), that she could take immediate delivery of it, and where she lived (less than 2 miles away).

The good news is that the dismantled bed just about fit into the car (helped by me closing the hatch by sitting on it) and was delivered to an incredibly grateful Vera and her partner to their housing estate on Sunday afternoon.  To round up this little tale, she kindly gave me a box of what I assume to be sweets from her country of origin, which turned out to be marzipan – my wife’s favourite and a gift that always appeared in her stocking as a child! Her parents would have been doubly pleased.

For negotiation trainingget in contact with Scotwork.

Horace McDonald
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