Can You Invest Too Much Into A Negotiation?

by drjim on November 21, 2014

When you have invested time and effort into a negotiation you don't want it to fail

When you have invested time and effort into a negotiation you don’t want it to fail
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Face it, if you are willing to sit down and engage in a negotiation discussion with someone, then you are already committed to reaching a deal with them no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Where things can start to get interesting is when you become too committed to reaching a deal. How to tell if this has happened and what to do about it are things that every negotiator needs to know.

How You Can Become Too Invested In A Negotiation

I hate to admit this, but in the past I have become too invested in some of the negotiations that I’ve been involved in. Yes, I should be smarter than this but becoming too invested in a negotiation is not something that happens all at once. Rather, it has a way of sneaking up on you.

What happens is that you find yourself spending a lot of time working on a negotiation. Slowly you find yourself starting to become psychologically and probably economically invested in the negotiation. This happens because of the enormous amount of time and effort that you have been pouring into this effort.

Once I reach this point, I feel that I HAVE to close the deal. If I don’t then all of that effort will be lost forever. I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you just how horrible that feeling of loss would be!

How You Can Use Investment To Your Advantage

The party that has allowed themselves to become too invested in a negotiation now finds themselves in a tricky spot. If the time that has been invested is disproportionate, then the party that has less to lose now has an advantage in the negotiations. If a deal is not reached, they’ll end up losing less than the other side.

As a negotiator, what this should be revealing to you is a strategy that you can pursue. What you want to do is to find ways to get the other side of the table to invest more of their time and energy into the negotiations than you do. This way they will become committed to reaching a deal with you.

Once you’ve made this happen, you’ll have the upper hand. The reason is because when a deal is in jeopardy and someone is overinvested in it, that is when you can get them to agree to things that normally they would not. They are so desperate to avoid losing their investment, that a bad deal for them is better than no deal at all!

What All Of This Means For You

In order to have any chance of being able to reach an agreement with the other side of the table, you need to want to reach a deal with them. However, the difference between wanting something and needing something can be easily crossed.

All too often, what can happen is that someone who is involved in a principled negotiation starts to see the negotiation slipping away. When this happens, they can start to panic because of all the time and energy that they’ve spent on the negotiations. They may start to make poor decisions. As a negotiator, it is your job to try to get the other side to be more invested in the negotiations while keeping your investment to a minimum. Getting them to spend a lot of time on the negotiations is one way to make this happen.

Realizing that there is a line that can be crossed when it comes to investing in a negotiation is the first step to not crossing it. Try to make it so that the other side can’t back out of the negotiation.

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

Question For You: If you discover that you’ve invested too much into a negotiation, what steps should you do to decrease your investment?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In a negotiation, nobody is operating without constraints. We all have limitations on what we can and cannot do. It’s how we deal with these power limits that can have a big impact on the outcome of the negotiations. As negotiators, we need to understand that we are dealing with power limits and then come up with ways to deal with them.

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