Saved by the conditional
I tell myself I shouldn't, really. After all I am now a 43 year old woman without property (or silverware) of her own.
But my apartment is extravagantly large for one person in Spain, a delicious luxury now that I work in it. And my apartment comes with an equally extravagant terraza alongside the pool, where a small but aromatic little garden has stubbornly survived my summer travel, thanks to Nomadita.
My extravagant piso is a front row seat for Salamanca's full schedule of fireworks. I leave the bedroom window open at night and fall asleep to the roar of the Tormes (ok, sometimes it's more of a gurgle, but it is lovely - cool and soothing.) More than one Semana Santa procession marches past that window, as will the procession of La Virgen de la Vega when Salamanca kicks off her fiestas on Thursday.
My piso is 2 minutes from the future location of my largest client. And a few hundred metres from the Roman Bridge I fell in love with before I moved to Salamanca.
For a few minutes today, I thought I was going to lose my extravagant piso.
Instead, I think I learned something about negotiating in Spanish.
My landlady Pilar called me last night to cheerfully tell me she'd just read the IPC (Spanish cost of living index) and would adjust today's rent and all of my future payments accordingly.
I just started a business. This would not be the moment to spend more on (extravagant) housing.
I sketched out all the sales arguments I'd use in English. I called a couple of Salmantinas who assured me that no natural law obligated my landlady to annually adjust my rent to the IPC. I exhaled when I remembered my contract never mentions the adjustment. My objective: convince a Salmantina that one garden-growing extranjera who's learned her lesson about throwing parties in rented apartments in Spain is worth more than two Spanish university students. Even at last year's rent.
This morning, I ran through my thoughts in Spanish with Nomadita, who unveiled the secret of negotiating in Spanish. "Always in the conditional", she told me at least 3 times in chat. "Keep the door open."
You might have to have learned a foreign language after 30 to understand how hard it is to persuade in a language other than your mother tongue.
Still, when I followed Pilar's smooth "So, your rent is now X" with a very sincere "La verdad es que....", she put her hand on my arm and said, "We'll just leave it where it is for this year, Erin."
And saved me from losing my beloved piso.
And it hit me: I'd had the same experience with a Spanish client. My contact came at me at the last minute with a much lower price, and conditions I couldn't possibly say yes to, and when I conditionally (gracias, Nomadita) told him I'd have to walk away, he immediately surrendered. He's been a charmer ever since.
In both cases I was completely sincere. I couldn't agree.
So Spaniards, what's the negotiating strategy? Shoot for the moon (scaring the hell out of consensus-seeking Americans), just for the hell of it?
I've invited my landlady to join me for this weekend's fireworks.
And I'm just walking around, contentedly. Looking at my extravagant apartment.
Labels: on living in Spain