The Art Of Making “How” Concessions

by drjim on January 13, 2017

Giving concessions creates a need in the person that you give them to

Giving concessions creates a need in the person that you give them to
Image Credit: Victor Bezrukov

In some negotiating circles, the word “concession” is a dirty word. It means to give in to the other side, to agree to do something that they want you to do. Those negotiators who believe in using their negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to achieve “winner takes all” don’t like this concept because they believe that it shows weakness on their part. Those of us who are a bit smarter realize that making concessions is what helps a negotiation move along and the secret to negotiating success is knowing when and how to make good concessions.

It’s All About Where You Are

Instead of talking about this issue of making concessions in general, how about if we instead pick a specific example and see if we can take a look at how you can make concessions work for you? In every negotiation there is one big question that has to be resolved before any negotiation can get started: just exactly where are we going to meet to negotiate?

There are, of course, three possible answers to this question: your place, their place, or some neutral 3rd party location. What’s interesting is that many negotiators always want the negotiations to occur at their location. However, what they don’t realize is that there are disadvantages to this: you lose the excuse of limited authority if your entire management organization is in the same building.

More often than not, the other side of the table will have a preference where they’d like to conduct the negotiations. Let us assume that you really don’t care that much where the negotiating takes place. In this situation, when they make a proposal for where the negotiations will take place, instead of telling them “ok”, you need to ask for some time to consider it. The next time that you talk, complain about the effort, the travel, the timing, and anything else that you can think of. Eventually, agree to the location that they’ve picked. You’ve just made a concession.

Resolving An Impasse

Because of the nature of negotiations, we often seem to reach a point where both sides of the table are unable to make any further progress in the discussions. The end result of this situation is that the negotiations break down and everyone walks away from the table. If you’re not careful, your negotiations could be over at this point in time.

However, a clever negotiator realizes that things are not done yet. In this case you need to ignore all of the negotiating experts who will tell you that if you contact the other side after this happens, you are showing weakness. Silly phrases like “The one who speaks first loses” have been created which really don’t have a lot of merit. Instead, you should reach out to the other side.

What you are going to want to tell them is that you feel at least a partial responsibility for the negotiations breaking down. You’ll want to make an offer to return to the negotiating table. When both sides return to the table, you’ll want to lay a new offer in front of them. This should be a new version of the last offer that they rejected. You only have to make minor changes to it. Change some wording and make the proposal look different from the last one. The other side will quickly realize what they are looking at; however, you’ll get credit for swallowing your pride and coming back to the table. They will understand that you’ve made a concession to them.

What All Of This Means For You

So why should you make all of these concessions to the other side? Simple, when you make a concession to them they will then find themselves in debt to you. This is a great position for you to be in. What it means will be that they will be looking for ways to pay you back. With a little luck this will lead to them making concessions on issues that you really care about.

During a principled negotiation, simple things like where the negotiations will be held need to be worked out. If you don’t have a strong opinion on where a negotiation should be held and the other side does, this opens the door to you making a concession and getting them to make one in return. The same can be said if the negotiations grind to a halt. If you make the first gesture to return to the table, the other side will find themselves owing you.

Concessions are how negotiations work. A smart negotiator needs to know what concessions he or she can make and the best way to get the most for what you give up. Take the time to plan the concessions that you’ll be willing to use in your next negotiation and you’ll be pleased with the outcome.

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

Question For You: Do you think that concessions should be a back-and-forth thing?

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

Negotiating is a tough job. Trying to determine how to start your next negotiation can be an even tougher job. There seems to be no limit to the number of different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that we can use to start a negotiation. We can storm into the negotiating room, throw our things down on the table, and then demand of the other side “what’s your best price?” There are countless variations on this theme. However, if we want to walk away with the best deal for us, what’s the best way to start things off?

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If you want to get the deal that you desire, then you need to have objectives

If you want to get the deal that you desire, then you need to have objectives
Image Credit: Ritu Raj

When we enter into a negotiation we need to know what we would like to get out of the negotiation. What this means is that we need to have objectives. Our objectives can come from many different places – ourselves, our boss, or another stakeholder. What’s important is that our objectives will drive the type of deal that we want to get out of the negotiations. You always have to know what your objectives in a negotiation are…

How To Prepare For A Negotiation

The planning out of your objectives needs to start before any negotiating begins or any negotiation styles or negotiating techniques start getting used. What you are going to want to do is to spend some time thinking about what your interests and concerns are about the issues that will be negotiated. You need to be able to identify the things that are the most important to you. What you are going to be trying to do here is to use your understanding of what you’d like to be able to accomplish in order to create what is called a content goal. Three characteristics of this goal are that it needs to be precise, specific, and measurable. The purpose behind all of this work is to equip you with an answer to the question “what” that you’ll want to have answered by the final agreement that you are able to reach with the other side.

Not every negotiation is the same. There are many negotiations that we engage in that become complex very quickly. If you anticipate this happening in your next negotiation, then you are going to want to take the time to create multiple objectives. The bigger the impact of the results of a negotiation, the more people who are going to be affected by the deal that you reach with the other side. In this case, you need to take the time to get input from those who might be affected by the outcome of this negotiation. As we all know, things don’t always go the way that we’d like them to go during a negotiation. That’s why before a negotiation starts you should know what your fallback positions are and what potential trade-offs you’d be willing to make.

Something that all too often we don’t think of when we are setting our objectives for a negotiation is that we’d like them to be so-called “stretch objectives”. Think about what you could reasonably expect to get out of this negotiation and then think just a bit bigger. The reason for doing this is studies have shown that the aspirations of a negotiator have a great deal to do with the type of deal that he or she will eventually end up getting. The phrase “If you expect more, you get more” turns out to be true when we’re negotiating.

Three Different Types Of Objectives

All objectives are not created the same. Some of your objectives will be of more importance to you than others. What this means for you is that you are going to have to do some prioritizing of your objectives. Your most important objectives are referred to as your “must haves”. These objectives are the whole reason that you are participating in this negotiation in the first place. In the final deal that you are planning on reaching with the other side, these are the objectives that will have a big economic impact on what that deal ends up looking like.

The second group of objectives that you have are not as critically important as the first set. We refer to these objectives as being your “would likes”. We don’t consider any of these objectives to be so-called “deal breakers”. You feel as though you have more room in which to maneuver with the other side. These are the objectives that you’d consider making a concession to the other side on in order to secure one of your most important objectives.

The final category of objectives that you’ll have are the least valuable to you. We refer to them as being the “tradeables”. These objectives have a very small economic impact on you; however, they may be quite valuable to the other side of the table. What you are going to want to do with them is to use them to make concessions that will allow you to achieve an objective that is of higher value to you.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for your next principled negotiation to be a success, you need to make sure that you walk away from the table with the deal that you wanted. What this means is that you are going to have to go into the negotiation knowing what you want. This all comes down to having a clear set of objectives to guide you during your negotiations.

Before your next negotiation begins, you’re going to have to spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of the negotiations. If the results of the negotiation are going to affect a lot of people, you’ll need to be sure to gather input from them about what your objectives should be. Make sure that any objective that you set is just a little bit more than you would expect to achieve because this is how we become successful. Not all objectives are the same and you’ll have to divide yours up into must haves, would likes, and tradables.

There is a real sense of power that a negotiator can get when he or she walks into a negotiation with a good understanding of what they’d like to get out of the negotiations. Taking the time to identify what your objectives are and which ones are the most important to you are a key part of providing you with this feeling of power. Before your next negotiations start, map out your objectives and then go get the deal that you’ve always wanted!

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

Question For You: What do you think that you should do if during a negotiation it starts to look like you’re not going to be able to achieve your primary objective?

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

In some negotiating circles, the word “concession” is a dirty word. It means to give in to the other side, to agree to do something that they want you to do. Those negotiators who believe in using their negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to achieve “winner takes all” don’t like this concept because they believe that it shows weakness on their part. Those of us who are a bit smarter realize that making concessions is what helps a negotiation move along and the secret to negotiating success is knowing when and how to make good concessions.

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