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Jun 6, 2009

The Law of Timing

Timing is everything in negotiation. A negotiation can be made or unmade by the time at which it takes place. There is a "too soon" and a "too late" in every situation. Whenever possible, you must plan strategically and use the timing of the negotiation to your advantage. There is a better time to buy and a better time to sell in almost every case. And when your timing is right, you will always get a better deal than when it is not.

The More Urgent the Need, the Less Effective the Negotiator
If you are in a hurry to close a deal, your ability to negotiate well on your own behalf diminishes dramatically. If the other person is eager to make the deal, he or she is functioning under a disadvantage that you can exploit to your advantage. For example, every company has sales targets for each month, each quarter, and each year. Sales managers are tasked with hitting incomes, and their bonuses. Therefore when you are buying any large ticket item, you will almost always get the best deal if you wait until the end of the month when the pressure is on to hit the targets.

Don't Rush
The person who allows himself or herself to be rushed will get the worst of the bargain. Rushing or using time pressure is a common tactic in negotiation, and you must be alert to other people trying to use it on you. People will often tell you that you have to make up your mind quickly or it will be too late. Whenever you hear this, you should take a deep breath and patiently ask questions to find out just how urgent the situation really is. If someone insists that he or she needs an immediate decision, you can reply by saying, "If you must have an answer now, then the answer is no. But if I can take some time to think about it, the answer may be different."

Allocate your Time
You resolve 80 percent of the vital issues of any negotiation in the last 20 percent of the time allocated for the negotiation. Probably because of the prevalence of Parkinson's Law, which says, "Work expands to fill the time allotted for it," most of the key issues in a negotiation get jammed into the final phase of the discussions. Up to this part of the negotiation, there seems to be a natural human tendency to procrastinate on the resolution of the most important issues. What this means for you is that you must be patient in a negotiation. You must be prepared for the key issues to be resolved at the last minute.

Final Point
A final point with regard to timing. Whenever possible, you should delay making an important decision. At the very least, don't allow the other person or persons to rush you into a decision by suggesting that if you don't act now, it will be too late. Whenever the item under negotiation involves a great deal of money, a long life of a product, or long duration of the decision, or it is the first time that you negotiated in this area, buy time for yourself. Take at least twenty-four hours, if not an entire weekend, to think over your decision before acting. Use time as a weapon to strengthen your position and to improve your ability to make better decisions.

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