The Most Important Word In Negotiating Begins With A “P”

by drjim on April 1, 2011

Negotiators Need To Remember Who Won The Race

Negotiators Need To Remember Who Won The Race

All too often when we see negotiators in the movies, they are portrayed as slick, fast talking folks who always seem to effortlessly get their way. The first thing that we need to realize that this is the movies and so it in no way represents real life. The second thing that we need to realize is that when we see negotiators portrayed this way, we’re being taught the wrong lesson. For you see, in negotiations, speed kills…

The Most Important Word In Negotiating

The art of negotiating is truly that – an art. Sure there are a lot of skills and tactics that help one get what they want to get out of a negotiation that much quicker; however, in the end, reaching a deal with the other side takes creativity.

In this day and age of immediate gratification, the single most important word that a negotiator needs to remember is the one that it is the hardest to hear – patience. Just as the Grand Canyon was not created overnight, so to are the best negotiations not completed quickly.

If you want to have any hope of ever being a successful negotiator, then you are going to have to learn to be patient – more patient than you are today. Patience is the one thing that allows both sides of the table to work through those things that are preventing a deal from happening. It’s also how the time is found to search for more creative solution to impasses, the ones that we all like to call “win-win” solutions.

If you can slow down your natural desire to rush through a negotiation, you’ll be able to take the time to fully understand what the other side of the table is trying to accomplish. Patience is something that will also give you time to adjust to the offer that the other side of the table is making to you. What seemed unacceptable awhile ago, upon further reflection may become something that you can live with.

Why Patience Works So Well

Nobody wants to hear that having patience is the key to being a successful negotiator. We are all looking for that secret “black belt” negotiating tactic that will cause the other side of the table to roll over and give us anything that we ask them for. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Instead, you have this powerful, but difficult to use strategy called patience. Patience works for you in the end not because of any magical qualities that it has, but rather because of what it allows to happen when you use it.

When you have the strength to be patient, you’ll allow the other side of the table’s expectations for what they’re going to get out of the negotiation to change. We all enter a negotiation thinking that we’re going to get everything that we want. If you can be patient, then the other side will start to understand that they’re not going to get everything that they want, but (if you’ll excuse the Rolling Stones song reference) they are going to get everything that they need.

Every negotiation is a stressful situation. Not only are the different sides exerting stress on each other, but they are also struggling with stress internally. If you have the ability to remain patient and wait them out, those internal stresses will continue to grow. If you are willing to wait long enough, those forces will cause enough stress and confusion for the other side that they’ll be more willing to reach a deal with you just to end the negotiations.

Finally, as much as you hate to be patient, the other side will hate to have you being so patient. When you are patient, things move more slowly and nobody can stand that – can’t we just get this thing done? As a direct result of your patience, the other side will start to do things in order to hurry the process up. More often than not this includes making some concessions just to get things to hurry along. Not a bad payoff for just being patient!

What All Of This Means For You

Far more important than any clever negotiating tactic, the ability to be patient is the one skill that will always serve a negotiator well. By taking the time to allow a negotiating session to unfold, a negotiator will allow more facts and realities to be revealed and by doing so it will become that much easier to eventually reach a deal with the other side.

Patience is such a powerful tool because of what it does to the other side of the table. It has the ability to transform them from an unstoppable force into a mild mannered partner.

It’s not easy to be patient during a negotiation, especially when the stakes are high. However, negotiators who can learn to be patient will find that they are the ones who are able to strike better deals quicker.

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

Question For You: Do you think that there are situations in which you need to become impatient in order to strike a deal with the other side of the table?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just how long do you think that your next sales negotiation is going to last? I’ve got news for you – it may not last as long as you may think that it’s going to last. The reason is that either side of the table may use deadlines to help hurry things along. If this happens, will you recognize that it’s happening and, more importantly, will you know what to do when it happens to you?

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