Right On Time

Use the art of timing to your advantage in negotiations.
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This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you negotiate a deal, know when you have the most leverage and when you have the least. That's how you put time on your side.

The pulse: Power can ebb and flow. Note the pace and tone of the other side's responses. Are they fast because they're effective or because they're desperate? Are they acting disinterested to manipulate you, or do they really not care? Some strategists recommend change-of-pace tactics. Whether it's an accelerando or a decelerando, you best play it well, lest your audience boo you off the stage.

Deadlines: Negotiations tend to accelerate at the eleventh hour. Having a deadline is like having an efficiency expert right at the bargaining table. Discover that your opponent has real time constraints, and you take the high ground. Torque up that leverage by dragging your feet-artfully, of course.

The phony deadline is a classic negotiating gambit used to hurry one side into a quick close. If you suspect it, test it: Get an explanation. Ask for an extension anyway. Do they fold? If you can, get expert or inside info. Or if you're up to it, just call their bluff!

Stop signs: Every negotiation must come to an end. No deal is perfect. Reconsider the big picture. If it's not worth any more of your time, try to shake on it or move on. As they say, sometimes your best deals are the ones you don't make.

A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is author of Deal Power.
Edition: June 2017

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