“Good Negotiators Know How To Avoid Compromise Danger” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“How you compromise today impacts tomorrow’s opportunities.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Good Negotiators Know How To Avoid Compromise Danger”

He wanted the opposing negotiator to perceive him as possessing an amiable demeanor. So, he smiled a lot and made one concession after another in the opening phase of the negotiation. He even offered several compromises that were not to his favor without a request to do so. Little did he realize the danger that he was creating for himself. But he’d sure find out later.  

Making concessions and compromises is an act that negotiators must engage in during a negotiation. And, since there are many ways to compromise during such times, if you don’t do it correctly, you place the favorability of a successful negotiation outcome for yourself in danger.

The following are factors to be aware of, and in some cases, concern yourself about before making a concession. Because, the manner you do so, signals how you might compromise your position throughout the rest of the negotiation.

Planning Stage

During the planning stage of the negotiation, assess how you’ll use concessions to compromise the other negotiator’s position. That means you should view compromises and concessions as a tactic, one that you employ strategically. To do that, assess where choke points might occur in the negotiation, based on potential points of contention. In your assessment, evaluate what you can offer to move him favorably away from the point of dispute. And estimate if you’ll use a concession or compromise to enhance your position. Also, consider what you’re willing to forgo to entice that move.   


When you’re in a negotiation, be aware of the following factors.

  • What the other negotiator’ really’ wants from you – It may be different from what he states.
  • Why he’s seeking what he wants from you – You may be a pawn used as leverage to get his real target to compromise.
  • Who else might he be talking with to obtain the outcome he’s after – Always attempt to know who’s not at the negotiation table – they might be your competitor.
  • What timeframe he’s dealing with – Time is a potent weapon in a negotiation.
  • What he might do as time begins to run out – Question if he might become irrational – If so, he may become more open to compromise.

And, depending on your negotiation circumstances, you should create additional factors that may sway the negotiation. Doing so will allow you to anticipate the actions that your opposition might engage in to acquire the outcome he’s seeking from the negotiation. It will also give you a guideline about when and how to make concessions. And that insight can be priceless. Thus, always attempt to understand the full story of what’s occurring in your opponent’s environment. And, remember that he’ll be making the same assessment about you.

Compromise vs. Concession Label

While some negotiators view making concessions as a form of compromise, you can commit to one without engaging the other, while giving the appearance that both are the same. As an example, if two negotiators were a $1,000 apart and one said to the other, let’s compromise and split the difference. At that point, he’s stating that he’s willing to concede $500 (i.e., 1,000 divided by 2). While the negotiator making the offer may view that as a concession, depending on your anticipation of what he might ask for later, label his proposal a concession or compromise. Do that based on the label that’ll serve you best in the negotiation. Because, he may attempt to say later that he made a concession or compromise, whichever phraseology would be beneficial to his position, and then ask you to indulge him by you offering one.  

Whether you compromise or concede points in the negotiation may sound like a point without a difference. But the point of difference lies in how a smart negotiator may use the perceptional difference to advantage his position. The point is, be mindful of how you compromise or concede, and how it’s perceived when you and the other negotiator exchange positions. The label you apply to your actions and the way you do so sets the tone for what will follow.  

Ploys (hook, story, offer)

Ploys are something else to concern yourself with related to compromise requests. You or the other negotiator may use them at strategical points in the negotiation. You can determine their effectiveness by how dire one’s position is when they’re employed, and the outcome they produce.


The other negotiator says to you, ‘this is going to make you a star. So many people will be envious of you.’ He’ll make statements such as those to orientate your thoughts to the future. The intent is to emotionally tie you to the feeling you’ll experience once you’ve acquired his offer. Be alert – it’s the set-up for what’s to follow.  


The story embellishes the hook. It’ll have a variance like, “we’re almost out of this. Someone else said they’d be right down, but you’re here right now. So, if you want it, it’s yours.” The implication being, you must act quickly. Be mindful of the manipulation attempt made to motivate you to act quickly.


The dialogue may go something like, ‘… so, you’re taking my offer, right? No! You’re crazy if you don’t accept this deal! It’s the best one you’ll get. And if you don’t take it, your competition will snap it up. And he’ll be the one getting all of the accolades that would have been yours. So, you better grab it quickly before I change my mind.”

Suffice it to say, when the hook is strong, you become more susceptible to compromise. Thus, be aware of how you feel when you hear a story that attempts to move you to accept an offer emotionally. At that point, you’ve been set-up passionately and exposed to the concession request that’ll follow.  


In every negotiation, negotiators must be attentive to restraining themselves. Sometimes an offered deal appears so appealing that inexperienced negotiators jump at the offer only to discover later that they could have done better. Don’t let that happen to you. Always keep your wits and emotions in check in a negotiation.


As a negotiator, always be aware when you may be pushing a rope uphill. That means there will be times when a deal can’t occur due to reasons beyond your control. Thus, no matter how much you compromise, you’ll only get further away from the next deal you negotiate with that person or entity. So, to avoid danger from compromise, understand how, when, and why you make concessions. And be alert to the earlier mentionings. Combining all of the variables mentioned will make you a better negotiator. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

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

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