An activity formerly confined to markets and bazaars has gained respectability. UK consumers are encouraged to apply the skills if the bazaar to a mobile phone contract, washing machine supplier, or, if there is one left in your city, a department store. Is that your best price? Can’t you offer me a better deal than that?
Is haggling an entry–level from of negotiation? Let the sober Shorter Oxford English Dictionary put you right. To haggle is “to mangle with repeated, irregular cuts; to hack or to mutilate. It is “to cavil, wrangle dispute as to terms, especially to make difficulties in settling a bargain. It is “to advance with difficulty.”
Haggling can achieve a lower price for a one-off purchase. Maybe both sides see this behaviour as the norm, expected, part of a ritual. But pushed too far, this is exploitation, and no-one likes to be exploited. Cutting a one–off deal brings an immediate short-term gain, an apparent triumph for the bargain-hunter. Fine if you are flying home the next day, never to return. Fine if you are confident you understand the process, and have the information you need to conclude the deal. If you and your employer prefer to be tough, equate low prices with success, go ahead and haggle. Be tough and transactional, but just remember those other definitions, and probably be ready to keep moving on.