So far this year, my gas and electricity supplier has put up the price of my fuel three times. In fact, they put it up twice in the last week. This was a situation that called for me to employ my negotiating skills.

Before I go any further I ought to confess that negotiation was not my first thought. Two price rises in a week was just ridiculous and I determined to get onto the telephone and give these people a piece of my mind. Fortunately I had the sense to suspend my reaction and waited 24 hours before contacting them.

The 24 hour wait was important not only because it gave me time to calm down but because it gave me time to consider what I really wanted. I quickly realised that merely venting my anger would not achieve very much and I determined that my real goal was to get a bill reduction.

My next step was to carry out enquiries with alternative suppliers. I discovered that I could get a deal that reduced my bill be around 15%. However, there was no guarantee that my new supplier would not put up their own prices. I looked around for some fixed price deals but none of these were attractive.

These enquiries were important for three reasons:

1. I was now armed with useful information when I phoned my existing supplier. 2. I was secure in the knowledge that I could easily switch supplier if my negotiations did not go well 3. It helped me plan my negotiation with the supplier

With my initial anger under control I decided that I would make contact by e-mail. I made the point that I was unhappy to see my bill rise twice in the space of a week but more importantly proposed a solution.

I suggested that the supplier review my energy usage and whether I was on the right tariff for me. I also told them I could get a 15% reduction from another supplier but preferred to stay with them if they could match that figure.

The outcome of all this is that they agreed to a 12% reduction. Whilst this was not as good as 15% I was delighted with this outcome. The reason for this was that the supplier had not only agreed to drop the price but they also agreed to fix the new rate for 12 months.

I think the reason I was successful was that I did not just complain. I also proposed a possible remedy. This gave the suppliers something to work with. The key point here is that proposals are negotiable. So, when you find yourself unhappy in a personal or a business situation try to remember to propose a remedy. You might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Wolfgang Halliwell is a learning and development consultant who has authored a number of courses for Trainer Bubble.

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