NEGOTIATION is often described as a process of give and take. Before you and your counterpart can reach an agreement, you will most probably have to make one or more concessions.
A concession is when you modify your demands to minimise the gap between you and your counterpart. For example, raising the amount of your offer, lowering your asking price, or offering other value to your counterpart are all forms of concession.
Because concessions have value, it is important that you make concessions the right way.
Suppose you are a buyer negotiating to purchase an item. You are prepared to pay up to $1,000 more than your initial offer. How should you pattern your concessions? These simple guidelines can help you get the most for less:
• Don’t offer a concession right away. If you appear too willing to give concessions, your negotiating partner will assume you will give more as the negotiation progresses. Make your partner work for everything he gets. The harder he works, the less he will demand and the more he will value the result.
• Don’t offer a large portion of your $1,000 at once. Offering a substantial concession initially may signal that more concessions are available for the asking. Start with a modest concession, with later concessions of diminishing size. As your concessions get smaller, you signal that you are approaching your bottom line.
• Don’t give a concession without getting something in return. If your counterpart asks you for a concession, ask him for something in exchange. For example, you could say: “I could do X for you if you will do Y for me.”
This lets him know he will not get anything for free, and he will be less likely to ask for something if he knows it will cost him.
You may be tempted to offer a concession to break a deadlock in the negotiation. If you do make a unilateral concession to get a stalled negotiation moving again, make sure you don’t give another one until your counterpart concedes something to you.
If you give two concessions in a row without reciprocation, your counterpart will ask for a third, and a fourth, and a fifth.
• Label all of your concessions. Every time you give something, make it clear it is something of value that requires reciprocation from the other party. Do not allow your concessions to be dismissed as minor.
To sum up: Make your concessions sparingly, taper them as the negotiation progresses, and always ask for something in return for every concession you give.
Article by David Goldwich, “the Persuasion Doctor”. He conducts workshops in negotiation, persuasive business presentations and other areas of influence and persuasion. He is the author of four books, including Win-Win Negotiations: Developing The Mindset, Skills And Behaviours Of Win-Win Negotiators. Learn more at www.davidgoldwich.com