Negotiation Tactic #23 – Uncovering the Real Reason

Summary: Asking questions to reveal any hidden motives behind a counterpart’s rejection of a deal point.

To be an effective negotiator, you have to learn to Uncover the Real Reason behind a counterpart’s resistance.


Jack is refinancing a home. His mortgage broker itemizes all the charges associated with securing a loan. Jack asks if the fee for the appraisal for the house can be waived since he had an appraisal done six months earlier and would like to use that appraisal. The mortgage broker says that getting an appraisal is standard company policy and her boss would never approve of waiving the appraisal or the fee. To find out if there is another reason the broker does not want to waive the fee, Jack could ask to speak directly to the broker’s boss. If the explanation the broker has given is not exactly accurate, the broker will probably make a concession. Better yet, if she does let Jack talk to her boss, he may succeed in gaining something he would not have gained if he had not used this tactic.


The mortgage broker has three possible counters. First, she could provide detailed information about why this deal point is critical to the success of this negotiation. Second, she could come up with options. For example, she could suggest that, instead of doing a complete walk-through of the house, the appraiser might do a drive-by appraisal to help lower the costs. Third, using the tactic of Higher Authority, she could say, “On the off chance that I could get my boss to waive the appraisal fee, would you like me to ask her?” This gives the broker the opportunity to approach her boss with the request. Then she can go back to Jack and waive the fee entirely, waive part of the fee, or say something like, “I spoke to my boss and she said the company’s policy makes waiving the fee non negotiable.”

Have you used or encountered this tactic in your negotiations? If so, how’d it go?

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