How To Use The Other Side’s Short-Term Thinking To Get More

Use the other side's short term thinking to your own advantage
Use the other side’s short term thinking to your own advantage
Image Credit: Live Life Happy

When we are involved in a negotiation, just exactly where should our focus be? I mean, we enter into the negotiation with a very clear understanding of what kind of deal we’d like to be able to walk away from the negotiations with, but what happens during the negotiation? Perhaps even more importantly, what happens to the other side – where is their focus?

What The Other Side Is Thinking About During Your Negotiation

If you are going to want to be able to reach the deal that you are trying to achieve in your next negotiation, then you are going to have to engage in some mind reading. Specifically, what you’re going to have to do is to take the time to understand what the other side of the table is thinking. What this really boils down to is being able to determine just exactly what kind of thinking they are engaging in: short-term or long-term?

If the other side is thinking long-term, then they are going to be focused on the ultimate outcome of the negotiations. You’ll be able to tell if this is where they are at by the types of questions that they ask you and what seems to be most important to them. If they are focused on the final result, the ultimate deal that will come out of the negotiations, then you can be assured that they are focused on the long-term view of the negotiations.

However, if they seem to be more caught up in the immediate financial details of the issue that is currently on the table, then there is a good chance that they may be focusing on the negotiation’s short-term outcome. If this is true, then a door of opportunity has just opened for you. You’ll need to come up with a strategy for taking advantage of the other side’s short-term thinking.

How You Can Use Short-Term Thinking To Your Advantage

When the other side gets caught up in the short-term and is focused on the immediate issue that is on the table, you have a real opportunity to move the negotiations in the direction that you’d like them to go. What you are going to have to do is to keep your eyes on the long-term vision of what you want to get out of the negotiations and then make an offer to the other side that will meet their short-term needs.

Let’s take a look at how you might go about doing something like this. Let’s say that you are in the process of negotiating with someone to buy a car from them. They want you to pay $25,000 and you have only offered to pay $15,000. They will probably have short-term focus on the price that you are willing to pay. You need to have a focus on total value of the deal.

Let’s say that you have an Xbox game system that you no longer play. You also have a collection of 10 games that only work on that system. You can tell the other side that you’re willing to pay them $20,000 and you’ll throw in the Xbox system and the 10 games. You can tell them that the value of the game system and games is roughly $2,000 and so you are really offering them $22,000 which is close to what they want. Since you no longer want the game system, it really does not have this value to you. However, because the other side is focused on the short-term issue, they just might take you up on it.

What All Of This Means For You

“Keep your eye on the prize” is a common phrase that we hear a lot. In the world of negotiations it is especially important. We may enter into a negotiation with the end goal in mind; however, it can be very easy for either side of a negotiation to start to focus on their short-term thinking.

What happens when you start to think in the short-term is that you get fixated on the issue that is currently being discussed. You can easily lose sight of the big picture. As a negotiator, when you see the other side of the table falling into this trap, an opportunity is opening up for you. You can create offers to the other side that maximize their short-term value while at the same time maximizing your long-term value. These are the best kind of deals!

In a principled negotiation with all of the different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that may be in play, it is all too easy to start to do some short-term thinking. We need to make sure that we don’t allow this to happen. However, when we see the other side thinking this way, we need to make sure to take advantage of the opportunity. Keep your eyes open during your next negotiation and use short-term thinking to your advantage.

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

Question For You: What is the best way to determine if the other side has short-term thinking?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Have you ever wrapped up a negotiation that didn’t end in a deadlock and yet still you felt disappointed? There is a very good possibility that what has happened here is that you entered into that negotiation without knowing what your bottom line vision was. For you see, if you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want to get out of a negotiation, then how are you ever going to get it?