Negotiate Your Car Deal: A Hard Chair Makes You A Better Haggler

June 29, 2010
In my book, HELP! Gotta Sell My Car NOW! (, I introduce an effective method of negotiating the price of a car deal when selling privately. It focuses on being curious about the other person, and asking questions to help them find a solution to their transportation problem.

Imagine my surprise when I learn that sitting in a hard chair makes you a better haggler. Could it be that simple?

How to Become a Better Negotiator
The publication Journal Science reported a series of experiments that seem to link our attitudes to other people with the texture of objects around us. Initially, it sounded bizarre. Yet, in one experiment, volunteers were seated in either hard wooden chairs or soft and comfortable seats before being asked to imagine themselves at a car dealer shopping for a new car.

After being told the suggested retail price of the car, they were asked to write down their first offer, followed by a second one in case the dealer rejected the initial offer. The result? Those sitting on hard chairs were less flexible in their pricing. Specifically, they were less likely to drop their price, making them tougher negotiators.

Previous studies revealed that people judge strangers to be more generous after holding a warm cup of coffee compared to holding a cold drink.

Unconscious Motivations
One researcher commented that touch remains one of the most underappreciated senses in behavioral research. Another said that our physical experiences not only shape the foundation of our thoughts and perceptions, but influence our behavior towards others.

Such observations account for why simple things, like a hard or soft chair, affect our reactions in certain circumstances. For that reason, pay careful attention where you sit the next time you buy a new car. It may be worth your while to push that soft, plush chair away from the salesperson’s desk in favor of a hard, wooden chair. That is, if you can find one, of course.

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