“Deadlines create both powerful and fragile opportunities for negotiators. The point of separation is how one uses them.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
“Negotiation Deadline Tactics
How To Control Emotions To Win More”
People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.
Negotiations can wreck your nerves and send your emotions scrambling for a hiding place, especially when deadlines loom. In that state, negotiators’ nerves fray if they do not employ tactics to thwart the travails of deadlines.
In this article, I highlight negotiation tactics you can use to dodge the dreaded downfalls that deadlines present. I also delve into how mastering emotional control significantly affects your negotiation success.
Recognizing Deadline’s Power
Deadlines are potent tools in negotiations. They create a sense of urgency and push negotiators towards faster decisions, which can result in nonbeneficial concessions and compromises to meet the imposed time constraints.
This urgency can also lead to impulsive decisions driven by emotions rather than thoughtful analysis. That is the most inopportune time when nonbeneficial concessions and compromises occur.
To thwart the possible negative impact of deadlines, understand their influence on the negotiation, while considering their potential impact, and plan accordingly. Recognize that deadlines can induce multiple stress levels and emotional reactions. Assess how you will control the emotions of everyone involved in the discussion.
Understanding The Role Of Deadlines
When assessing negotiation deadlines, consider their purpose.
If you issue a deadline, think about:
1. What purpose it serves
2. What occurs if the opposing negotiator does not abide by it
3. How might it impact the flow of the negotiation
4. What will occur if the opposition does not meet the deadline – what will be the consequences – sometimes, after negotiators have settled on a deal, it unravels because too much pressure occurred to meet the deadline
5. What strategy do you have going forward, regardless of the disposition of the deadline
If you are dealing with deadlines set by others, consider the following:
1. What is the intent of the deadline
2. What will they do if you do not meet their deadline
3. How might you test the deadline without throwing the negotiation into chaos
4. Who, or what sources, may be maneuvering behind the scenes to influence the opposition’s deadline, and how might they adopt one action versus another based on how you respond
5. What resources can you use for assistance in addressing the deadline
6. What is the opposition’s back-up plan if you do not abide by their deadline
There are many factors to consider when addressing deadlines in negotiations. Start with those I have offered and build on them. The more thought you lend to managing negotiation deadlines, the better prepared you will become at handling and making them advantageous to your negotiation efforts.
When someone presents you with a deadline, they attempt to motivate you to adopt an action. Do not become upset about it. Control your emotions. That could be an opening to gain greater insight. To gain a better understanding of the deadline’s intent:
1. Ask why it is being imposed – note how this question is addressed – that will give you insight into the thought process that went into creating the deadline
2. Question who will become impacted by it – this will uncover possible hidden negotiators that are not at the table
3. Consider reframing the deadline by offering a possibly better outcome for all parties if it was eliminated (do this when that is advantageous to your position; otherwise, offer a deadline stressing the benefits on your timeframe)
Reframing deadlines can create opportunities to gain greater insight into sources motivating your opposite. Never dismiss them out-of-hand nor fail to explore and exploit their value.
Things To Consider When Nearing Deadlines
1. Depending on your strategy, if you are controlling the deadline, consider avoiding making absolute statements. Statements such as, that’s the best I can do, I guess we’re not going to come to an agreement, or, come on, you can do better than that, could place more pressure on your opponent. But it could also make them more unmoveable. Thus, I suggest you use such statements strategically – when you absolutely know you have a power position.
2. If you lack control of the deadline, consider how you might obtain as much as possible before making concessions. That may include future considerations.
Regardless, before making final concessions, attempt to maximize your position. That would be one way to soften the effects of a deadline you had to abide by.
Emotions play an integral role in the progress and outcome of negotiations. And that is why you must maintain control over them throughout the negotiation process. To do that, consider:
1. Thinking ahead – Before the negotiation, consider what might upset you or your opposite and how you will address it. The more points you can identify, the better prepared you will become if they arise during your talks.
2. Know Triggers – Triggers are stimuli, usually from past experiences, that can cause a negotiator to adopt an action.
3. Plan breaks – A lack of rest can cause stress. During periods of high anxiety, one’s emotions can become easily irritated. That can lead to a loss of emotional control. To avert that, plan strategic breaks into the process.
When presented with negotiation deadlines, never consider yourself defenseless. If you control your emotions, opportunities will present themselves if you know how to uncover them.
Also, when issuing deadlines, frame them so you do not back yourself or the opposition into a corner. That will not serve you. Instead, use deadlines strategically, control emotions, and understand their impact on the discussion. And everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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