When you set deadlines in your negotiations, do you consider the good, the bad, and the possible ugly effects that might occur? Do you consider the path upon which you set the negotiation on once a deadline is imposed? Negotiation deadlines can be a catch 22 if not used and planned for appropriately.
This article gives insights to consider, regarding how you can use deadlines effectively in your negotiations.
Negotiation Tip: Never invoke deadlines aimlessly in your negotiations, and always attempt to have a plan in place to deal with the negotiation if the deadline passes without the action you seek being acted upon.
When considering how to apply a deadline from a positive perspective, you can casually mention that another person, activity, etc. will occur at a particular point; that point being if the deadline occurs and a certain action is not met. You can also position the deadline as being out of your control, because a ‘higher authority’ is controlling it. By positioning your deadline in this manner, you’ve conveyed that you’re not the ‘power’ imposing it and you’re only following the directions you’ve been given. You’re innocent. You can also use this positioning to entice the other negotiator to partner with you to work on getting the negotiation completed before the deadline occurs.
The bad aspect of setting deadlines is what occurs if the deadline comes and goes without the action sought occurring. Then what do you do? First, never set deadlines so tightly that you leave yourself in a proverbial corner from which it’s hard to extricate yourself, if the deadline passes. Leave yourself some wiggle room. As an example, don’t state that an offer will be removed from the negotiation, if that offer is a pivotal part of what you seek from the negotiation. In essence, be selected about what you attach to a deadline and be sure it doesn’t hurt you if it’s not met. In addition, to gain more leverage with the deadline, associate it to something that the other negotiated needs/wants. The more he needs/wants what’s associate to the deadline, the greater your leverage will be.
Deadlines create tension. The closer the deadline looms, the more tension is created and generated. This can raise the tension level in the negotiation. During such times negotiators can become unglued, uncontrollable, and unforgiving. As such, some negotiators may become steadfast and commit irrational actions that cause the negotiation to go in unforeseen directions. To the degree you have alternate plans in place to deal with such occurrences you can maneuver. To the degree you haven’t made such plans, call a time out and get away from the negotiation table. During such times, you need to let the tension level erode before re-engaging in the negotiation. The one thing you don’t want to do is appease the other negotiator during such times by capitulating to his demands. Doing so will only embolden him to use this ploy going forward.
Deadlines can be a strategic tool to employ during negotiations. Going forward, place yourself in a position whereby you use deadlines advantageously. By keeping the thoughts above in mind before setting deadlines in your negotiations, you’ll come out further ahead … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!