4 Ways That Negotiators Can Use A Deadline To Get What They Want

by drjim on June 27, 2014

Make deadlines work for you, not against you…

Make deadlines work for you, not against you…
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Life is filled with deadlines and negotiations are no different. What this means for us negotiators is that we need to find a way to make deadlines work for us, not against us. In order to make this happen, we need to know just a bit about how deadlines work and I know 4 ways that we can make deadlines work for us…

How Deadlines Work

As negotiators we have a tendency to look at deadlines as being a bad thing. It turns out that this is not correct. What we need to do is to look at deadlines as being just like negotiation styles and negotiating techniques: they are yet another negotiating tool that is available to us.

What we all too often don’t realize is that if we have a deadline, that’s bad. However, if the other side of the table has a deadline, then that’s good. Their deadline is going to put pressure on them to complete the deal and this will end up giving you a negotiating advantage.

A study done a number of years ago revealed an important fact about deadlines. It showed that when people were negotiating under a deadline, they will put off reaching a deal until the deadline is almost upon them. Since they don’t want to conclude the negotiations without a deal (that’s the same thing as failing) they will then make concessions to you that they never would have at the start of the negotiations.

4 Ways To Make Deadlines Work For You

When you find yourself in a negotiation where the other side is operating under a deadline, you need to take advantage of the situation. Here are four ways that you can use their deadline to get a better deal for you:

  1. Noting Will Happen Until The End: Understand that the other side will probably wait until their deadline starts to approach before they’ll be willing to reach a deal with you. At that point in time they’ll want to do a deal because otherwise they will have wasted the time that they’ve invested in the negotiations.
  2. Negotiations Tend To Wander: Until there is a real reason to do so, the other side will probably be content to let the negotiations wander. This will all change whenever there is a compelling reason to reach a deal or when one of the sides decides that the deal is no longer worth it and moves to kill it.
  3. Avoid Deadlines: As powerful as having the other side of the table operate under a deadline is, when you are operating under a deadline it will sap your power. When this happens, try to prevent your management from imposing a deadline on you and if they do, don’t let the other side know about it.
  4. Deadline Are Not Always What They Seem: Just because the other side says that they are operating under a deadline does not make it so. You always need to be probing and testing to see if their stated deadline is real or fiction.

What All Of This Means For You

Deadlines are a part of every principled negotiation. With a little luck, the other side of the table will be dealing with deadlines and you won’t be! No matter, you need to know how to use deadlines as a tool to get a better deal.

The first thing that you need to understand is that in most negotiations, if the other side is operating under a deadline then they’ll be most willing to make concessions as the deadline starts to approach. Deadlines are necessary in order to motivate the other side to reach a deal. However, you want to avoid having deadlines imposed on you. Even though the other side might say that they have a deadline, you always need to test them to see if it is real.

Deadlines are a very important negotiating tool. As a negotiator you need to understand how deadlines work and you need to take steps to make them work for you. By understanding the true power of deadlines you’ll be able to control your next negotiation and you’ll be able to reach the deal that you want.

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

Question For You: If you have a deadline, can you think of any way to have it not influence how you negotiate?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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.

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