Sadly, this tip is just as meaningful today as last year. Everyone is still on edge about the economy. Negotiations are tougher and more competitive, which often leads to stalemates, and sometimes to broken deals and relationships. Here are some tips for getting negotiations back on track during highly sensitive economic times.
1. Deliver minor concessions early: Making concessions early in the negotiation can help you get the negotiation off on the right foot. Focus on giving your counterparts a few low-cost “gifts” that they find valuable. You will help build a higher level of trust and cooperation, and the level of competition will thereby be reduced, increasing the chance of success without giving up anything of great value.
2. Clearly label all major concessions: Say something like, “This is going to cost us a lot, but I am willing to give this to you because ….” The other side will feel a greater responsibility to reciprocate.
3. Use time wisely: Time can be your worst enemy. In slow economic times, people want to get the deal done. On the other hand, if you put too much time pressure on your counterparts, they might feel as if they have made a bad deal even when it is beneficial for them to accept it. Although it may be counterintuitive, it is wiser to give your counterparts enough time to fully assess choices when making important decisions.
4. Match your behavior to the outcome you desire: One year later we cannot forget the Big Three automakers coming to Washington, D.C. in their private corporate jets with their hands out because they were “broke.” Of course, there was a better practice…and you know what they did next, after they were totally humiliated.
5. Prepare, prepare, prepare: Need I say more.
*Negotiation, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Vol. 12, No. 3, March 2009.