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Being the Messenger as a Negotiation Tactic

In professional real estate negotiations, being “the messenger” can make it easier to counter with a difficult piece of information. As you play the role of messenger, you will be perceived as a third party with the difficult task of delivering an unpleasant request or condition from another party. It takes away the perception that YOU are a bad guy, and that someone ELSE is the originator of the negative or controversial information.

When used effectively, the messenger negotiation tactic can strengthen your position with the perception that a broker or manager is simply not going to allow the requested concession, and that you must therefore negotiate towards a more favorable compromise. You can become a leader and the good guy who truly wants a successful negotiation and knows what needs to be done.

Use this messenger negotiation tactic with caution, however, because you do not want to be perceived as powerless. Follow up your messenger delivery with the assurance that you CAN reach a solution that will be satisfactory for all.

To counter the messenger negotiation tactic when it is used against you, tell the messenger that he or she is also accountable for the negative information. Inform the messenger that if they cannot agree to your request, you would like to speak with the party that made the decision. You might even express surprise or anger such as, “This is very frustrating; I would like to speak with the person who decided this.” Requesting to speak with the decision maker will put pressure back onto the agent you are negotiating with to either offer a different solution or explain why he cannot.