In professional real estate negotiations, the ask why negotiation tactic is the bedrock of good negotiation skills. It helps identify areas of real issue, puts the spotlight on the specific problem, and lets both sides work towards a resolution. It can be – perhaps should be – used in almost all negotiation settings. Most successful negotiations have less to do with how vehemently you argue than with how well you prepare beforehand. Asking why will allow you to use your facts and preparation to head off unreasonable objections.

The ask why negotiation tactic identifies and helps resolve the true concern – because sometimes the true concern is not obvious. As an example, consider the seller that states, “I will not sell for less than $450,000.” When asked why he may reveal something like, “My brother says I would be a fool to sell for less.” So the issue is not really price, it is the embarrassment or ridicule that this seller might feel having to face his brother. By countering with facts, “Your brother might not have seen the latest statistics for sales in your area …,” you arm the seller to face the brother while you also move a long way towards countering the objection on price.

The best counter to the ask why negotiation tactic is to answer the question with a question. This can often deflect the attention to a different topic. For example, if you wish to pay only 5% commission to the other party, the ask why tactical response you expect is similar to, “Can you tell me why you feel strongly about that?” To this you might counter, “So you are saying that you will not take it at 5%?” This places the focus on the other party rather than on the percentage.

If the ask why technique goes back and forth too many times, it defeats its own purpose: to bring to light the real issues to be resolved. The solution to that is to … yes … ask why.