Time and Patience in Negotiations

What You'll Learn
  • A quick solution may be a bad solution
  • Learn to be brilliant at doing nothing
  • Be willing to wait
  • Time is your enemy
  • Patience is your weapon
  • Impatience is the most deadly of all negotiating mistakes
  • Proposing a solution too early can be detrimental
  • When you give something away easily, it appears to be of low value
  • Deadlines force concessions


Another Best Negotiating Practice that comes into play throughout the negotiation process is your use of time and exercise of patience. A quick solution may be a bad solution. Learn to be brilliant at doing "nothing". Be willing to wait. Time is your enemy but patience is your weapon. Impatience is the most deadly of all negotiating mistakes. If you can wait, you can win.

Like many things in life, patience is relative -- it can mean seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months. And in some situations, years.

A Cautionary Tale about Patience

Proposing a solution too early in the Exchange Stage can be detrimental. If you propose a perfectly good solution before the other side sees that the parties' interests are more aligned than not, they may reject the idea out-of-hand and be reluctant to return to it later.

Hastily conceding in the Bargaining Stage what seem to be minor points without thinking them through can also cause damage.

  • A seemingly small issue may have larger ramifications.
  • When you give something away easily and quickly, the other side is less satisfied because it appears to be a concession of low value.
  • Either way, a hastily arranged solution or agreement is costly. You will make unnecessary concessions – bet on it.

The Power of Time

  • Patience softens expectations and encourages flexibility.
  • Patience allows time for the other side to accept otherwise tough choices.
  • Deadlines force concessions; be sure to establish deadlines for them, and Probe any deadline they set.

What can you do if things seem to be moving too rapidly?

  • Challenge the other side's imposed deadlines.
  • Recognize when things are moving too fast and out of control. Call for a caucus or break.

How to Mitigate the Impact of Self-imposed Time Crunches

  • Sell the value of your organization, partnership, product/service, and/or solution LONG BEFORE negotiations at the bargaining table
  • Pro-actively build a relationship with
    • Your negotiating counterpart individual(s); and
    • Your counterpart’s/customer’s/vendor’s decision makers and their influencers
  • Prepare thoroughly
  • Leverage face-time
    • Before initial selection
    • In bargaining
    • To close the deal

  • Patience works in both directions; their patience may compel you to make unnecessary concessions.

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