Ever get that icky feeling you're being lied to when you're negotiating a big purchase, like your first home, or a car? Unfortunately, your gut might be right. According to a new study from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, gender stereotyping that assumes women are incompetent (eye roll) leads both men and women to lie to women in the negotiating process. "Negotiators deceived women more so than men, thus leading women into more deals under false pretenses than men," reads the study. As disappointing as this news may be, there's an upside: It doesn't have to happen to you.
Do Your Research
You know that feeling when you spent days preparing for a job interview and walked into it thinking, I got this? That's the strategy to bring to any major purchase. "Being well researched makes a huge difference, in your ability to speak knowledgeably and your confidence," says Amy Bohutinsky, CMO of the real estate websitezillow.com. "It shows that you're engaged in the process and have opinions driven by information."
When you're spending thousands of dollars on a car or a down payment on a home, it's not always the time to play nice—but you don't have to go full-on mean girl either. "There's a difference between being confident and knowledgeable and being a jerk," says Bohutinsky. "The best negotiators are people who keep emotion out of the equation and stay level-headed but firm when communicating their needs."
Be Clear About What You Want
So many people don't clearly communicate what they want when negotiating, which can lead to a whole lot of regrets. If you're being led to a purchase you really can't afford or you're not getting a straight answer on the price, "Remind the agent or salesperson that you have a budget, and inquire whether the seller will entertain offers within that budget," says Douglas Wagner, director of brokerage services at Bond New York. "Home sellers might price their property optimistically, just to see how much they get for their home." This is also true when buying a car, or even furniture—especially when you're dealing directly with the owner.
Dress Like You Mean Business
"If you wouldn't wear your yoga pants to a board meeting or an important presentation at work, then don't wear them in a sales situation," says Bohutinsky. "Appearance does make a difference in how we're perceived, whether we like it or not. Bring your best and most confident self to present what you want."
Gets Recs From Friends and Family
"You should talk to your friends and family who have gone through the process of buying a home recently," says Bohutinsky. "Find out what worked and what didn't—and ask them what they would have done differently." They might also be able to steer you toward local real estate agents and car dealerships that are trustworthy.
Don't Be Afraid to Walk
If you have a weird feeling, don't go through with a purchase. Some sellers will try to pressure you by saying a deal is only available right this second, but "If you find an agent you can trust and with whom you've fully communicated your needs and limits early and up front, you should be a team," says Bohutinsky. If you don'tfeel like you're on a team, say you need to sleep on it and leave.