I first wrote the story about tips to negotiating when I was traveling in Asia. I still believe in that article but since visiting Haiti my view has evolved. Yes, it’s important to bargain and no matter how hard you bargain, you will always pay more than the locals. I understand all that. There’s an art form and a skill that is necessary to effectively negotiate. Its how life operates and how businesses become successful. I get all of that. For some people it’s a rush, a feeling of success; it’s gratifying, and it’s __________. YOU CAN put any word in their to fill in the gap.
I never stopped to think about the other side of the story, until I met this wonderful person by the name of Maria. For over a month I was working at Hotel Florita in Jacmel, Haiti when Maria came in with an organization called New Waves -AYITI. Somehow we got into the conversation about the art in Jacmel, the galleries, and the local vendors. She told me about a particular piece of art that she bought at FOSAJ (located behind the hotel). She explained to me how beautiful this piece of art was and how it really connected with her. “I asked what the price of this particular piece of art and she replied, “$100 usd.” She bought it without bargaining. It wasn’t because she had the money to spend or anything like that. She states, “It’s because in Trinidad, Haitian art is highly respected.” Maria understood the value of the work. It wasn’t a duplicate; it was an original piece of artwork.
Questions to ask yourself next time you decide to use your TOP Negotiating Skills?
What does it mean to you when you negotiate?
Are you physically and financially beating down someone to get a lower price?
Are you discouraging/ devaluing their work, with your prices?
Are you uplifting or discouraging their spirit, hard work, and craft?
Could you pay an artist to paint you original artwork at that price where you are from?
Have you really accomplished something?
Can you go home and brag about how you got the price down?
Have you considered the other person, the artists, the vendor, the store owner who has to pay for their materials for your “souvenir” you bought?
What about their livelihood, their family, and the work that they put in?
Earlier that week, I helped two members of her team negotiate four pieces of art, which led me to think about Maria’s logic on negotiating prices for art, and the value of respecting artist work, and pricing. It made me think twice negotiating. The conversation plays over and over in my head. “What does it mean to you to negotiate someone down from the price, to beat them down, just to say you saved $15-$20? Could you have bought that back at home for that price? The price of the paint and other materials alone cost a lot of money. What do you get from discouraging someone and taking the meaning from something that they’ve worked so hard to put together? Could you ask artists back at your home to paint you an original piece? How much would you get charged back home?
I am not saying this to discourage people from negotiating, but for people to have that conversation with themselves and with friends and family and to realize how their actions affect the locals, local economy and the way that the locals view tourists. I know it has made me reflect on all my negations.