Think About How You Say Things, Please

written by liz on Tuesday, October 07 2008

barstoolTodays life lesson comes courtesy of some barstools I am attempting to sell on Craigslist.  I bought these barstools about a year ago when I fantasized they would end up in our "new" kitchen. However, I now realize the kitchen will not be "new" for at least five years when we might consider remodeling it (and if the economy continues doing its best impression of the death spiral- I fear it may end up even longer, but that is another post). So, I bought the lovely stools that I really do not have room for, or need. I tried to sell them at a recent garage sale- but in my experience, brand new furniture does not garner a fair price when it is sitting out in the front yard while surrounded by old baby gear and fallen redwood tree debris. So, I posted the stools on Craigslist. I got one reply, and the people seemed interested and  then I never heard from them again. Next reply came "courtesy" of  someone named "Linda"

Her first e-mail was quick and to the point:

"how much for just two of them?  linda"  

Now, since I really didn't plan on selling two, because I had four- I had to think about this for a moment. At first I thought, no I don't want to break up the set. I thought again though, and decided I would break up the set and I answered that I would sell the stools for $100 each. (Which is less than I paid for them- and considering the quality, and the fact that they are still pretty new- I thought was a fair price).  

Linda wrote me back, this was her reply: "wow!  it would be cheaper to order direct from pottery barn! "

Not too impressed with dear Linda and her skills of negotiation and diplomacy, I replied: "Go For it! " Go to town with what you think I really wanted to say because in my opinion, it's just rude to e-mail someone with a response like that. . It goes to show that the way you "speak" to a person really does influence how one wants to respond. Holler at your kid and they are probably gonna fall into a puddle at your feet- go figure.

Future negotiators take note.


I then got a reply that was so different from dear Linda that it was impossible to not compare.  This time it was from someone named Lisa who wrote a very thoughtful and kind note.

Lisa's first e-mail:

Your stools are lovely, and I am sure you are selling them for a fair price.
Should you still have them available and are willing to sell at a reduced price at some point, please let me know.
Another possibility is a partial cash/barter.I am 20+year  NY state licensed Massage Therapist(modalities include swedish,deep tissue,thai yoga massage,pregnancy&labor assist &sport/medical massage) and certified Yoga instructor.
I know this is a rather bold offer to a stranger(on craigslist,no less!),but I can tell you at least have style and good taste! I have recently relocated back to the area,and have many local references should you be interested.
Feel free to call.
Thank you!

Her second e mail later that day since I had been out and had not had the chance to respond:

Hi again,

Just to clarify,

I have been licensed &in private practice for over 20 years in NYC and Ca.Also,I forgot to include shiatsu in the modalities that I offer &that I presently barter with my handyman,landlords & pilates instructor-all professionals &happy to provide references.

If you prefer only cash exchange,I can offer $350.




After reading Lisa's e mail and viewing her picture (which I left out here to protect her privacy) I decided to e- mail her and ask if she would toss in another $25 and we would have a deal. Anyone who is thoughtful enough to start with a complement, end with a complement and then offer additional ideas, is suitable to negotiate with.

So, in summary, if you have not caught the lesson by now, I'll spell it out for you:


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