How To Buy Yourself More Time During A Negotiation

by drjim on October 14, 2016

Sometimes all that we need is just a bit more time during our negotiation

Sometimes all that we need is just a bit more time during our negotiation

Image Credit: Brandon Warren

Any negotiation can be a fast paced affair. The other side uses different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to start to throw ideas and proposals at us one after another and we very quickly feel ourselves becoming overwhelmed. In order to prevent you from making a negotiating mistake, we need to come up with a way that you’ll be able to buy yourself some time when you really need it.

You’ve Got To Know What To Say

When you find yourself in a negotiating situation where you are overwhelmed, you need to be aware of your situation. What you are going to need here is to buy yourself more time. What you want to have happen is to for the other side to stop asking you questions and to stop making more and more proposals for how they’d like to move the negotiations forward. You simply need time to think.

What you are going to have to do is communicate to the other side that you are shutting down. That you are no longer in a position to receive more information from them. There are a number of different ways to go about accomplishing this; however, the simplest is to turn and face the other side of the table and say “huh?” This simple expression communicates that you are not grasping what is currently being discussed. You’ve now told the other side that no forward progress is going to be made until they take the time to explain where things currently stand to you. If you’d like you can also use the word “what?” to communicate the same thing.

You’ve Got To Know What To Do

When you find yourself in a situation where you need to buy yourself some extra time to think things through, you need to take action. If you continue to sit at the table and stare at the other side, they won’t know that you need time to process what has been said and undoubtedly they will continue to throw new ideas at you – exactly the wrong thing for them to be doing at this time.

Instead, what you need to do is to clearly communicate to the other side that you are done listening to them. You can do this by turning your attention away from them. You’ll need to busy yourself with some task that will take up all of your time. Examples of this may be playing with a pen by taking it apart and reassembling it, stacking and unstacking your books and papers, etc. It may take a bit of time for the other side to catch on that you are no longer paying any attention to them. However, once they detect this, they’ll understand that they will not be moving the negotiations forward until you start to pay attention. More often than not, the other side will call for a break in the negotiations which is exactly what you wanted them to do.

What All Of This Means For You

During a principled negotiation, especially during a long and complicated negotiation, you may find yourself lost and confused. If this happens to you, then what you are going to need to do is to buy yourself some time to process what has been said and where the negotiations are currently at.

In order to get yourself the time that you need, you are going to have to take action and send signals to the other side of the table. The first way to go about doing this is by simply saying the words “huh?” or “what?” What this will do is let the other side know that you are no longer following what they are saying and that they now need to back up. Additionally, you can break eye contact with them and start to do something else that requires all of your attention. The other side will detect this and will understand that this is probably be a good time for a break.

The key to having a successful negotiation is to be able to communicate clearly with the other side of the table. There will be times that you find yourself lost in the negotiation. You have ways to communicate this to the other side in a way that will buy you the time that you need to understand what has been said during the negotiation. The next time that you get lost during a negotiation, use these techniques to get yourself the time that you need!

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

Question For You: What should you do if the other side is not picking up on your signals that you need time to think?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

p>One of the most fundamental questions about any negotiation that has to be answered is who should be running the show? If you ask most of us, we’d tell you that it’s the person who is ultimately in charge – the big man (or woman). It turns out that this is the wrong answer. We really don’t want them anywhere near the actual negotiations. The reason why turns out to be pretty initiative once you understand it.

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