The Power Of Delays In A Negotiation

by drjim on July 18, 2014

Sometimes a delay can be a good thing

Sometimes a delay can be a good thing
Image Credit

We all hate delays, right? No matter if it is when we are in traffic, waiting in a line at a store, or waiting for the next web page to load, any sort of delay is a bad thing. Or is it? It turns out that in a negotiation, sometimes a delay can be a very good thing. We just have to learn how best to deal with them.

How To Use A Delay In A Negotiation

Every negotiation has its own timeline. Every negotiation follows a somewhat standard path of starting, wandering around for a while, and then moving towards either a successful conclusion or aborts. As is the case with the rest of life, delays can enter into any negotiation at any time. This is where an opportunity may make itself available to you.

You have the ability to slow down the negotiation at any point in time. When you do this, the other side will react. Their reaction will tell you a great deal about their situation. They may start to complain that the negotiation is now taking too long. If they do, then you now have an opportunity to renegotiate what they would like to trade speed for: more money, a better delivery schedule, etc.

What this means for you is that if the other side of the table tells you that they can’t handle any delay in the negotiations, then you now have more negotiating power. Their only choice at this point in time, outside of walking away, is to make concessions to you in order to get the negotiations back on track.

How To Build A Fire Under The Other Side In A Negotiation

However, in a negotiation, you may not be the only one who is slowing things down – the other side of the table may have decided to delay the negotiations. If this happens, then you are going to have to find a way to motivate them to speed things up.

The type of motivation that you choose to use will depend on the negotiation that you are currently involved in. It could be you reducing the price of your product, it could be a change in some aspect of the timing associated with the deal, or it could mean you walking away from the deal altogether.

Ultimately you are going to have to develop your own personal sense of timing for each negotiation that you are involved in. You are going to have to be able to detect when a delay is occurring and you’ll need to be able to evaluate your options on what steps you would like to take in order to get things moving once again.

What All Of This Means For You

In any principled negotiation there are a wide variety of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that can be used. In addition, delays are another tool that an experienced negotiator can use to control the flow of the negotiation.

Every negotiation has a timeline associated with it. You can control how the other side of the table behaves by either delaying the negotiation or working around a delay that they are causing. When the timeline starts to deviate from what the other side wants, they will become more willing to make concessions in order to get it back on track.

The ability to understand how best to use delays is something that comes with negotiating experience. Once you have this you’ll know how to get your next negotiation to move towards your ultimate goal at the correct speed.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: When the other side wants to speed things up, should you make them make a concession first?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

It is through negotiation that the impossible can be made possible no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. A deal has been brokered between Iran and the rest of the world in regards to their work on creating an atomic bomb. For more than a decade Iran has been willing to put up with crippling international sanctions in order to continue to pursue its goal of creating an atomic weapon. However, recently everything has changed. How were the negotiators able to create a deal?

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Take the time to determine your next negotiation's critical path

Take the time to determine your next negotiation’s critical path

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As negotiators we are always looking for a better way to conduct our next negotiation. What we’re looking for is are things like negotiation styles or negotiating techniques that we can use to gain the upper hand during the negotiation. It turns out that one of most powerful tools that we can use is something that we can use even before the negotiation starts. This tool is called the “critical path” and it can lead you to the deal that you want to reach.

What Is A “Critical Path” In A Negotiation?

The billionaire Donald Trump is known for being part of some very large real estate deals. What a lot of people don’t know is that most of these deals have been negotiated by Trump’s lead negotiator George Ross. George has years of experience when it comes to negotiating and he has developed the tools that he needs in order to get the deal that he wants. One of these tools is called the critical path method.

In a negotiation, a critical path is the sequence of events that you believe will lead you from the start of the negotiation to an ending that results in the deal that you are seeking. The starting date for your negotiation’s critical path is the date that the negotiations start. The critical path will extend to the date that you believe that negotiations will either wrap up or will need to be called off. As you put your negotiation’s critical path together, you’ll have to include estimates of how long you think that each step in the process will take.

The process of creating a critical path is important to your negotiation because it will force you to organize your thinking about how you want to go about achieving the goal that you desire. Creating a critical path is not an easy thing to do – it will take some serious thinking on your part.

How To Use The Outside Date With A Critical Path

An important part of any critical path is the date that you are forecasting that the negotiations will end on. In critical path terms, this date is called the “outside date”.

Every negotiation is a dynamic process. As you proceed in a negotiation eventually a real deadline will eventually show up. Once this happens, that date will now become your real outside date.

During the negotiation, you’ll use the outside date to determine how soon before the outside date you are going to have to complete the negotiations. Due to the variability involved in every negotiation, there is a good chance that you are going to have to consider several different scenarios and this means that you are going to have to create multiple critical paths. Becoming good at creating accurate critical paths is a fundamental negotiating skill that we all have to develop.

What All Of This Means For You

Donald Trumps’s lead negotiator, George Ross, knows a thing or two about negotiating. One of the techniques that he uses in order to be able to walk away from a negotiation with the deal that he wants is called the critical path method.

A critical path is just what it sounds like: the sequence of events and the times that they are going to take in order to for you to reach the deal that you want. Part of a critical path is the outside date which is the real deadline that you are facing. Once you know your outside date, you then know when the real negotiating needs to begin.

The critical path technique allows you to plan out your next principled negotiation. Using this tool you can take control of the negotiation and have the confidence that you’ll be able to reach the deal that you want on time. Prior to your next negotiation, create your critical path and discover how powerful this tool is.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If things change during a negotiation, do you think that you should take the time to modify your critical path?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

We all hate delays, right? No matter if it is when we are in traffic, waiting in a line at a store, or waiting for the next web page to load, any sort of delay is a bad thing. Or is it? It turns out that in a negotiation, sometimes a delay can be a very good thing. We just have to learn how best to deal with them.

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