“Decision Fatigue – How To Use It To Easily And Quickly Win More Negotiations” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“When decisions you make most matter, not making them under decision fatigue will matter most.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Decision Fatigue – How To Use It

To Easily And Quickly Win More Negotiations”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Do you think you make better or worse decisions under decision fatigue? Have you noted the quality of your choices when you are fatigued during negotiations?

Decision fatigue is a strategy that some negotiators use during negotiations. Why? Because they know your decision-making abilities decrease as you become exhausted, and they weaponize decision fatigue against you – they attempt to force you into making critical decisions when you are tired.

What follows will give you insights into how you can use decision fatigue to enhance your negotiation efforts and defend yourself against negotiators who attempt to use it against you.

Decision Fatigue And Its Importance In Negotiation

Science shows that each of us has a maximum number of good quality decisions we can make daily. That means your brain can only make a few logical decisions compared to the enormous number of decisions that present themselves to you. And once you reach that limit, decisions can become labored, making it more challenging to make decisive and sound choices.

That is why meticulous planning of the strategies you will employ and how you will get the negotiation back on track should it wander from your plans is imperative to a successful negotiation. It will relieve you of having to go through a logical progression to offer a counter to a proposal or offer when you are at the negotiation table.

How To Use Decision Fatigue To Advantage Your Negotiation

There are several ways to use decision fatigue as your ally in negotiations to maximize your position. They are:

1. Control the negotiation agenda. When you control the schedule, you determine which items you will discuss and their order. And if the opposition allows you, you can set the time and length of the discussions.

Please note – unless you are negotiating with someone in a weakened negotiation position, expect pushback on your efforts to set and control the agenda. But therein lies where you can also use your attempt to control the negotiation as a tradeoff to make fewer decisions during the negotiation. And that may also benefit your position by skirting possible decision fatigue during the talks.  

2. Be aware of your peak performance times. It would help if you based that on when you make your best decisions in negotiations and under what conditions you do so. If you are unaware of when that occurs, begin noting today when that happens based on the stakes for which you negotiate. Be aware that you will exercise more critical decision-making skills in higher stake negotiations than in those without such requirements.

3. To the degree you can, assess your negotiation opponent’s tolerance for decision fatigue. You can gather insights based on situations they have negotiated in the past. Depending on your needs, talk with those with whom they previously dealt.

Seek past times during talks when your opponent altered their demeanor as negotiations shifted. That will help you consider the timing of your offers and rebuttals. That will also become input for your negotiation plan roadmap.

Negotiation – Decision Fatigue And Gamification

A friend told me she was filled with angst every year when she had to renew her license with insurance agencies. She took tests based on the agency she worked with for the renewal process. Since there were several that she dealt with, and the license renewal deadline was about the same for all of them, she contemplated which to address first. 

One day, she put numbers on a piece of paper in a small bottle associated with each agency. Then, she reached into the bottle and began working on the agency whose number she had drawn. She made a game of it. That meant she did not have to engage in a decision-making process to decide which company to address and the order to do so. She was forestalling decision fatigue.

So, do you think you can use gamification to delay decision fatigue? It is a serious question to consider before you negotiate. It would have to be specific to a negotiator type that would engage you, something that they would see as beneficial. And what might that look like to them? That would depend on the kind of games the individual was motivated to play (i.e., daring, exciting, inspiring, educational, etc.).  

The point is that gamification can make decision-making fun, relieving non-recognized tensions that can alleviate decision fatigue. If used appropriately, it can also reduce tensions in a negotiation.


Decision fatigue plays an enormous role in the quality and viability of your decisions, whether during negotiation or your other daily activities. To stave off making bad decisions, consider how your negotiation outcome will become impacted based on when you ponder and make them. You should always consider the role that decision fatigue plays in your abilities to make clear and better decisions – your negotiation outcome will depend on that.

Therefore, consider how you might employ decision fatigue to advantage your positions during negotiations. Also, be aware of when your negotiation counterpart is using it against you.

You can raise your awareness based on the information you gleaned from the insight presented here. Once you use the value of decision fatigue as a negotiation tool, your negotiation outcomes will become more favorable. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating! 

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After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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