The Role That Time Plays In A Negotiation

by drjim on February 17, 2017

Time plays a key role in every negotiation

Time plays a key role in every negotiation
Image Credit: an Wright

I’m pretty sure that if there is one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that there never seems to be enough time to get our negotiations done. Sure, every negotiation seems to start out with enough time, but then all of a sudden after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have been used and that time is gone, we’re facing deadlines, and yet we still have no deal. Is there any way that we can get time to work for us instead of against us during a negotiation?

The True Power Of Time

Although you may not find this to be as amusing as I do, both sides enter into a negotiation with exactly the same amount of time as the other side has. We may not realize this and as we start to feel under the gun we may be envious of the other side, but what we need to keep in mind is that they have to be experiencing the very same things that we are experiencing. If we can realize this, then all of a sudden we can start to look at time as being less of a burden on us and more as a tool to be used during a negotiation.

If it were not for time, there is a very good chance that none of our negotiations would ever wrap up. For you see, what time brings to the table is pressure on both sides. This pressure has the result of putting stress on both sides to keep things moving forward. Ultimately, as the time winds down, both sides are forced to make decisions. No, this is not fun for anyone but it does mean that things do wrap up and we are all able to move on to our next task.

I can only speak for myself, but I have been in plenty of negotiations where both sides were not inclined to make any concessions to the other side. And so we sat there and waited. What happened in these situations was that the deadline to wrap the negotiations up started to approach. When both sides became aware that their time was running out, all of a sudden concessions started to be made. The negotiations started to move and agreements were reached. The proximity to the deadline clearly motivated both sides to start to do something.

The Role That Deadlines Play In Our Perception Of Time

The reason that a principled negotiation wraps up is because someone at some time told everyone who is involved in the negotiations that things were going to be ending at a specific date and time. This is why we call this type of communication a deadline. There is a sense of magic associated with a deadline, the behavior of everyone involved in a negotiation will start to change as the deadline starts to grow near.

One of the questions that I get asked by the people that I am consulting with is just exactly what they should be doing when a deadline starts to get close. I tell them that what might be more important is what they should not be doing. They don’t want to start to give off physical signs that they are becoming tense because of the approaching deadline. No rocking back and forth, walking around, or other fretting motions. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to remain composed and confident. Show the other side that you are not fazed by the approaching deadline.

All too often in a negotiation, the other side has informed you that the deadine is a “hard stop”. This is interesting information, but I wouldn’t give it too much weight. The beauty of any negotiation is that just about everything is negotiable, and this includes the deadline. If the other side believes that they can reach a deal with you, they’ll be willing to bend on the deadline so don’t get too worried about it.

What All Of This Means For You

The one thing about time in a negotiation is that for some odd reason it never seems to be on our side. Oh sure, we start out a negotiation with all the time in the world, but somehow we seem to quickly get ourselves into a situation where there is precious little of the stuff left. There has got to be a way to make time start to work for us.

It turns out that time is a good thing in negotiations. It forces the other side to keep things moving along and make some decisions. When a deadline is involved in a negotiation, what happens is that all of a sudden when the deadline starts to approach, decisions will get made and agreements will be reached. When that deadline starts to come your way, you need to remain composed and confident – don’t do things that will make you look nervous. Don’t worry too much about deadlines, like everything else in a negotiation they can be negotiated.

As negotiators we need to view time for what it is: yet another tool for us to use during our negotiation. If we can master time, all of a sudden deadlines will become our friend and we’ll understand how to use time to move things along and cause concessions to be made. Time is what is going to allow us to get the deals that we both want and need!

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

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to start to get the other side to agree to changing a deadline?

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

When you know that you will be involved in a negotiation in the future, when should you start to prepare for that negotiation? If you are like most of us, using the techniques that we probably learned back in high school, we tend to put off the getting ready work until the date that the negotiations are to start is almost upon us. It turns out that this is the wrong thing to do, we really need to start getting ready to negotiate long before the starting day arrives.

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How you see the world determines what you'll get out of your next negotiation

How you see the world determines what you’ll get out of your next negotiation
Image Credit: J E Theriot

Whenever we start a negotiation, we go into the negotiation with high hopes. We would like to be able to walk away from the discussions after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are over with the deal that we are looking for. However, that does not always happen. What is it that makes a negotiation go our way – or not? It turns out that one critical part of any negotiation that plays a big role in determining its outcome is our state of mind.

It’s What The Other Side Thinks That Matters

When I’m working with negotiators who are just starting out, what I’m often faced with is a great deal of nervousness. My students ask me how they should handle a situation where it’s their first time negotiating a deal with someone who has done this 100 times before. They fear that they are not qualified to participate in this negotiation. My advice to them is always the same “if you can imagine yourself doing it, then you can do it”.

What my students don’t realize is that we humans all share a peculiar trait. This trait is that no matter what reality is – what is really going on around us – we will respond to what we perceive. The key, and perhaps obvious, point to be made here is that often our perception of the world around us does not line up with the way that things really are. What this means for you as a negotiator is that the leverage that you can bring to a negotiation will depend greatly on the other side’s perception of your situation.

What matters in a negotiation is not reality, how many times you’ve been involved in a negotiation like this, but rather perception – how many times does the other side think that you’ve done this before? What this means for you and every negotiator out there is that when you first walk into a negotiation, you have to sit down at the table believing that you have leverage. To think anything else at this stage of the game will leave you wide open to manipulation.

The Core Of Any Negotiation

Every negotiation depends on a number of different things. However, at the core of any negotiation lie the same three things: time, information, and power. Time is critical because it determine how fast the negotiation will have to move, information is critical because it will determine what your next step will be and power makes sure that you know what the other side will and will not permit to happen. What we need to understand is that our perception of the other side (and vice versa) can either magnify or minimize these three things based on perception.

The one thing that you cannot allow to happen to you during a negotiation is to permit either self-doubt or a lack of confidence to enter into your mind. Allowing this to happen will put you at a disadvantage during the rest of the negotiations. What’s going to happen is that you are going to end up relying on the kindness of strangers to get anything out of the negotiations.

There have been a series of studies of negotiators that took a look at both how they viewed themselves during a negotiation and how they viewed the other side of the table. What the researchers discovered is that we tend to underrate our own strengths while at the same time overrating the strengths of the people on the other side of the table. The reason that we do this is because we are judging them based on the things that we know that they have accomplished. At the same time we are judging ourselves based on all of the times that fallen short of accomplishing what we set out to do.

What All Of This Means For You

When we enter into our next principled negotiation, we may have hope, dreams, and desires regarding what we’d like to be able to get out of this negotiation. However, what we may quickly discover is that we feel outclassed by the other side. What we need to keep in mind is that what often determines the outcome of a negotiation is our state of mind.

What we need to remember is that people are more influenced by their perception than reality. What this means is that the leverage that you bring to the table during a negotiation is not based on what you know or your experience. Rather it’s based on what the other side thinks that you know or have done. The outcome of any negotiation depends on three things: time, information, and power. The other side’s perception of us can either magnify or diminish how they see these three key factors. We need to make sure that we don’t overrate the other side while underrating our own negotiating talents.

So much of what goes on in a negotiation has to do with perception. How the other side views us and how much leverage they believe that we have will go a long way in determining how they are going to be treating us. Keep this in mind the next time that you start a negotiation and make sure that you have the proper state of mind!

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

Question For You: If you find that you don’t have the proper state of mind at the start of a negotiation, what can you do about it?

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

I’m pretty sure that if there is one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that there never seems to be enough time to get our negotiations done. Sure, every negotiation seems to start out with enough time, but then all of a sudden after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have been used and that time is gone, we’re facing deadlines, and yet we still have no deal. Is there any way that we can get time to work for us instead of against us during a negotiation?

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