Successful Negotiators Know How To Make Time Work For Them

by drjim on July 22, 2016

Negotiators have to know to to make time work for them, not against them

Negotiators have to know to to make time work for them, not against them
Image Credit: Dirk Knight

One of the first things that all of us learn about negotiating is that in the end after we get over all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques being used, it’s all about time. There is only so much time to conduct a negotiation You only have so much time, the other side only has so much time, etc. Very quickly we all start to realize that time is a tool and whichever side uses this tool the best will probably end up getting what they want out of the negotiation. The big question is how to make this happen?

The True Power Of Time

As negotiators we need to take the time to learn how to use time as the ultimate negotiating weapon. As we all know, every negotiation goes through a number of different phases. Each one of these phases will have it’s own time element associated with it. Our goal as negotiators always has to be to make sure that we don’t find ourselves being forced to operate under somebody else’s time limitations. If you can avoid this happening to you, then you’ll be well positioned to make time your weapon to wield.

One great example of how time can be used by you as a weapon is when you have a good understanding of what time means to the other side of the table. If you discover that they are in a situation where there is a specific time that they must have this negotiation wrapped up by, then your strategy needs to take this into account. Specifically, what you are going to have to do is to put off negotiating in earnest until the last possible moment. By doing this you’ll ensure that the other side of the table will be the most vulnerable to having to accept your proposals.

The thing that we all need to understand about time is that it can quickly change from being an ally to being a foe if we are not careful. What this means for us is that during a negotiation, we have the added responsibility to make sure that we are always aware of what time it is. It can be all too easy for the time that we have to slip away from us and then we’ll find ourselves involved in a completely different negotiation.

How To Get Time To Behave The Way That You Want It To

Knowing that time can be a powerful force in a negotiation is one thing. Knowing how to use time to get what you want out of a negotiation is a completely separate thing. One of the most important things that we need to realize is that to get the most value out of our time, we need to learn how to both lengthen it and shorten it.

When it comes to using time in a negotiation, you are the one who has the control over it. What you need to be fully aware of are the tools that you use to control your time. There are three tools that every negotiator uses to control time during a negotiation: delays, deadlines, and deadlocks.

Delays can be one of the most effective tools that we use to control time during a negotiation. Using a delay we can force the other side of the table to eventually come around to reaching an agreement with us simply because they’ve become so tired of waiting for us. Your job as a negotiator is to determine which tool to use at which time during the negotiation. At the same time you’ll need to be keeping your eyes open and make sure that the other side is not using them against you!

What All Of This Means For You

One of the most powerful forces that will be at play in any principled negotiation that you participate in is time. There never seems to be enough of it and it shapes the actions of both sides of the table. If you want to get what you need out of your next negotiation, you are going to have to learn how to make time work for you.

The first thing that you need to realize that every negotiation is made up of multiple phases and each of these phases will have a time element associated with it. You always need to be searching for ways that you can transform time into a weapon that you can use to control your negotiation. Delays are closely associated with a negotiation’s use of time and you need to learn how best to use them. Along with this you’ll need to be able to master deadlines and deadlocks. You will always have to be keeping your eyes open so that the other side is not permitted to start to use time against you.

Knowing the important role that time will play in a negotiation is the key to finding ways of mastering it. You need to realize that the other side will be trying to do the same thing and so you’ll have to always be taking steps to prevent them from doing this. Get good at using your tools to both stretch out and compress time and you’ll be able to control how the negotiation both proceeds and concludes.

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

Question For You: If you discover that the other side is trying to use time against you, what steps should you take?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I believe that it pretty much goes without saying that the goal of any negotiation is to eventually reach an agreement with the other side of the table. It’s how we are able to reach that agreement despite all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that are being used that can at times be so very challenging. When we talk with the really good negotiators, they always have the same thing to say: getting that big final commitment can only be achieved by getting a series of smaller commitments. Now all we have to do is figure out how to accomplish this.

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