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2011-04-19 23:03:56

Time Limits

Hello Good Negotiators

How much time should we allow our opponent to consider our proposal?  Should we give them all the time they need and not appear too demanding?  Should we give them a short window to respond so they won't be inclined to consider other options or frame a detailed counter offer? 

These questions are already answered by the good negotiators of our world.  They recognize that time and the pressure of time can dramatically impact negotiations and the ultimate agreement.


Time Limits


Good negotiators know that there are significant benefits to setting a time limit on their opponent who is considering a proposal.  Failing to set and convey that time limit communicates a nonchalant attitude and tends to encourage counter offers. 

Any negotiator who conveys a proposal and indicates that the other party can 'get back to me whenever' is losing power and tactical influence.  Even if you are not in a hurry to put a deal together, get in the habit of setting a timeframe for a response to your proposal.

One doesn't need to share the reason for the deadline.  The mystery of the time limit selected is a power tactic all on its own.

In more complicated high dollar negotiations, consider power language such as, "I'll need to hear back from you by this time tomorrow."  or "This price is only good through 6:00 pm today so if you want to proceed I need to hear from you by then."  or "I wish I could give you more time to consider this proposal, but I need your reply by closing time today."

In a more routine purchase or sale situation, the time limit can (and should) be shorter.  That can be conveyed by saying, "Let me make a quick phone call and I'd like your response when I return." or "Let me step aside and allow you a few moments to consider what I've suggested."

One doesn't have to be on their 'home turf' to set time limits.

Even as a customer in a store or at someone else's office, one can make a proposal and share that they'll browse/make a call/step out for a moment or two before asking for a reply.

And finally, setting time limits on family negotiation situations (especially with our children) is amazingly effective.  Kids have a way of 'waiting us out' and employing delaying tactics to their advantage.

Good negotiators know that open ended negotiations are rarely effective.  We should all set a pace and sense of urgency as we KEEP Negotiating.

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