Everyone is on edge about the economy, making negotiations tougher and more competitive. This often ends in stalemates and sometimes broken deals and relationships. Here are some tips for getting negotiations back on track during highly sensitive economic times.
- Deliver minor concessions: If you make concessions early in the negotiation you can get the negotiation off on the right foot. By giving your counterpart a few low-cost “gifts” that he or she finds valuable, you help build a higher level of trust and cooperation. This in turn reduces the level of competition, increasing the chance of success without giving up anything of great value.
- Clearly label all major/significant concessions: Say something like “This is going to cost us a lot, but I am willing to give this to you because ….” And you will cause the other side to feel a greater responsibility to reciprocate.
- Use Time Wisely: Time can be your worst enemy. In this economy, we all want to get the deal done and lock it in. Yet, if you put too much time pressure on your counterpart, he/she will feel as if they have made a bad deal even when it is beneficial for them to go through with it. So, even though it may be counter-intuitive, give your counterpart enough time to fully assess choices when making important decisions.
- Match your behavior to the outcome you desire: No one can forget the big 3 automakers who came to Washington, D.C. in their private corporate jets with their hands out for money because they were “broke”. A better practice would have been …well you know what they did next, after they were totally humiliated.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare: Need I say more?
* Negotiation, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Vol. 12, Num. 3 / March 2009.