Successful Negotiators Know What Money Looks Like

The shape of money can change over time

The shape of money can change over time

In the end, just about every negotiation comes down to one thing: money. You would think that we could all agree on just exactly what this thing that we call money looks like, but there you would be wrong. Forget everything that you’ve learned about different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. Instead for just a moment, focus on the money — it turns out that money has a shape, and this shape might be what is keeping us from reaching a deal with the other side of the table during negotiations. Let’s talk about how we can change the shape of money…

The Time Shape Of Money

So just exactly what is this “time shape of money” thing? It’s actually pretty simple. One side of the table has the money, and the other side wants to get their hands on it. That money can be paid in a number of different ways and those payments can even be delayed.

As a negotiator you need to understand that different parties have different perspectives on the cash that is being discussed as a part of the negotiation. You’d be amazed at the number of times that I’ve been involved in a negotiation and although I had assumed that the other side of the table was flush with cash, for one reason or another they were almost desperate to get their hands on the cash that we were talking about as quickly as possible!

As a negotiator you need to understand that as part of the negotiation process, the way that that the cash is shaped may play a big role in how the other side of the table is looking at any deal that you are trying to put together. What this means is that you are going to have to take the time to explore how you can make the time shape of money work for you. You may end up being able to create a better deal for yourself simply by reshaping the price.

How You Can Make The Time Shape Of Money Work For You In A Negotiation

If you can agree with me that the shape of the money involved in a deal that is being negotiated may be a critical factor in your ability to create a deal that works for both sides of the table, then we need to understand how to go about making this happen. It’s all about time.

When money is a part of a negotiation, we need to keep in mind that money can be paid in a wide variety of different ways. The other side of the table may be eager to receive most if not all of the money up front – they want to get their hands on it as soon as possible. In other cases, they may be looking for a much longer payment period.

Things that you and I might believe should be fixed, such as monthly payments, may actually be something that the other side is hoping to make variable for whatever reason. The length of time that the payments will be made is another factor that you can control: some parties will want the period to be long while others will be looking for a much shorter period.

Just to keep things interesting, you must not always assume that the other side wants to be paid! In certain cases, the other side may want the payments to be sent to some other party. There can be a wide variety of reasons for this; however, I’ve often found that tax considerations can play a big role in such decisions.

What All Of This Means For You

All money is not created equal. Well, that’s not really true – money is money, but what negotiators need to realize is part of the negotiation definition tells us that all money comes with a time shape associated with it. If you can learn how to change the shape of the money that is part of your negotiation, then you’ll have a powerful new tool.

The other side of the table sees the money that is part of the negotiations in a particular way – it has a specific shape to them. The money might be coming to them up front, or it might be coming slowly over time. They may not want it to come this way and that’s where you can step in and change the shape of the money being negotiated.

Knowing that money has a shape is a key realization for negotiators. The next skill that they have to have is to be able to make the changes that will transform the shape of the money that is part of this principled negotiation . By doing this you just may be able to change a negotiation that seems to be going nowhere into one that creates a deal that both sides of the table can live with.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should wait until the end of the negotiation to start to change the shape of money?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’d like to be able to tell you that there is nothing in this world that two negotiators can’t work out between themselves. I said that I’d like to be able to tell you this, but I can’t because it’s not true. The sad truth of the matter is that in certain circumstances, maybe it because of our different negotiation styles or negotiating techniques, we are just not able to see eye-to-eye with the other side of the table. When this happens, it may be time to bring in a mediator…



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Over the last 25 years, Dr. Anderson has transformed failing negotiators worldwide. Dr. Anderson will turn these missed opportunities into successful deals.


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