“Decision Fatigue’s Double-Edged Sword – How To Increase Your Negotiation Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Decision fatigue is the life or death cradle of opportunities. The factor of either is how one uses it.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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“Decision Fatigue’s Double-Edged Sword

How To Increase Your Negotiation Skills”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Decision fatigue can sway negotiators down desperate paths that may not serve them. And negotiators can use decision fatigue to advantage their negotiation efforts.

In this article, I discuss identifying the signs of decision fatigue, what causes it in negotiation, and how to use it to your advantage. Once you master this information, you will increase your negotiation skills when interacting with people in all aspects of your life.

Identifying Signs Of Decision Fatigue

It is essential for negotiation success to identify signs of decision fatigue. Because if you cannot recognize their sources, you will not know what announces their pending arrival. So, prepare to detect them. That will increase your negotiation skills.

1. Precision Cognitive Decline: As negotiators become more decision-fatigued, their ability to communicate cohesively declines. That may be due to the tiredness they are experiencing.

When a negotiator cannot make sharp decisions or easy calculations, you may be witnessing the onset of decision fatigue. Note the degree of its progression.

2. Emotional Irritation: Negotiators nearing decision fatigue tend to become more easily irritated. Their emotional cognition may also become slanted to the point that they lash out at the slightest provocation. And that can be dangerous for the negotiation.

3. Body Language: Another sign to note is unnecessary body movements – such as fidgeting, erratic hand movements, or frequently shifting their physical position. While this may be due to their uncomfortableness, their signs may stem from decision fatigue. To better disclose its source, induce calmness in the talks, and observe any behavior change.  

Recognizing decision fatigue is essential because it impacts the negotiation. Recognizing signs of it in yourself and the other negotiator allows you to take time outs, adjust your negotiation strategy, and assess how you will proceed in the talks. Never let decision fatigue nip at your negotiation success. If you do, that can be what destroys your efforts.

Causes Of Decision Fatigue In Negotiation

Many reasons can cause decision fatigue in negotiations. Some set in before the negotiation begins, and others materialize during the talks. Take note when you or the other negotiator may enter such a state.

1. Decision Delay: Delaying decisions can lead to decision fatigue. When negotiators delay decisions, depending on their severity, they may experience anxiety, laying the ground on which decision fatigue takes root. Always be mindful of your thought process and what causes you to engage in the thoughts you have.   

2. Time Pressure: How negotiators use time is another factor affecting decision fatigue. Suppose there are time limits imposed on the proceedings, and the negotiation is nearing that end. In that situation, the negotiator feeling more time pressure may experience decision fatigue. The tension would depend on the degree of decisions engaged and the value they added to the talks.

3. Negotiation Complexity: Have you been in negotiations where certain aspects had to fall in place to get from one phase to the next successfully? All talks have segments, so your answer is yes.

The point is, since negotiations occur in phases, be mindful of one segment’s effect on the other and how that might influence your decision-making abilities. If you fail to focus on that point, decision fatigue may be the cost of doing so.  

Using Decision Fatigue To Enhance Negotiation Skills And Outcomes

Decision fatigue is the depletion of one’s ability to make good choices. That ability declines as one makes more decisions throughout the day. Thus, there are ways negotiators can use that factor to their advantage. The following are a few suggestions about how you can accomplish that.

1. Timing: To diminish decision fatigue effects from occurring to you, schedule more complex negotiations early in the day. You can use it to compromise the opposing negotiator’s mental agility by scheduling complex talks later in the day. Ensure you are well-rested.

2. Reduce Unexpected Circumstances: In the planning stage of the negotiation, map out your route to success. Include how you will address roadblocks and potential impasses.

If there are degrees of severity in the talks that might lead to angst, engage in mock sessions. Seek to experience where they may occur and how you might feel mentally about them. Doing that will give you more peace of mind, leading to fewer decisions and reducing your chances of decision fatigue.

3. Evoking Weariness: There are many ways to inject weariness into a negotiation. And why would you want to do that, you may ask – to induce decision fatigue upon the opposition?

You can accomplish that when the negotiation is bound by time constraints when you sense the other negotiator is becoming tired, or you want to alter the flow of your talks to better position yourself.

To accomplish this feat, extend conversations by asking for greater clarity, rehashing information from prior phases in the negotiation, and offering multiple options from which the opposition can choose.

Since you would do this to obtain a mental edge, use this tactic when it is less likely to cause you anxiety. You do not want to incur harm from it. That could lead to decision fatigue, claiming you as a victim.


Negotiations occur on the currency battlefield of mental acuity. Decision fatigue is what erodes that acuity. But you do not have to become prey to decision fatigue.

With these insights, you can identify the signs of decision fatigue, understand the sources that give them life, and how to use them to enhance your negotiations. So, implement your new-found knowledge in your next negotiation. 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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