The personal obligation negotiation tactic can be a persuasive tool in professional real estate negotiations.  When used correctly, it has the effect of making the opposing party feel as though they “owe” you something.

Most people feel an innate sense of obligation to return a favor or kindness that was done for them.  In real estate negotiations this can work in your favor.  If you have made a concession on one item, it can help create a pressure on the other side of the table to give a concession in return.  To emphasize the obligation, state something similar to, “I have worked really hard on your behalf to get the other side to agree on this, so the least you could do is go and work very hard with your side.”

If the opposing party is not reciprocating a personal obligation, then a more direct approach can be employed.  “You told me your client wanted X and I got it after long, hard work.  Now you need to get your client to agree to Y.”  This type of statement more clearly defines the expectation of give and take in the negotiation.

When you are faced with the personal obligation negotiation tactic from the other side, the most effective counter is to bring attention to the fact that this negotiation is business, not personal, and therefore no reciprocal obligation is warranted.  “Let’s take the emotion out of this and focus on business.  It was right that your client agreed to X, so it should not have been that hard.”

The personal obligation negotiation tactic can be an effective means of gaining a concession, but it does mean that you will have to concede a point first.  Since the basis of this negotiation technique is about balance, take care to choose your own concession with a value that appears balanced to what you are seeking.