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10 Powerful Concession Strategies Of Successful/Effective (Win/Win) Negotiators

September 15, 2015 » Win/Win Negotiation Concepts, Strategies and Tactics

Every negotiation involves a little bit of give and take. But there are effective and ineffective ways to make concessions. Adopt a win/win attitude with these 10 powerful concession strategies.

If you are planning to do business with someone again, don’t be too tough in the negotiations. If you are going to skin a cat, don’t keep it as a house cat. Marvin Levin

Successful/Effective = Win/Win

Successful/Effective negotiators are win/win negotiators. Their goal is to achieve a mutually acceptable result that satisfies the interests (needs/priorities) of both sides at the lowest cost to each. They conduct negotiations in a way that respects the relationship they have with their counterpart. When that respect is not reciprocated, they understand how to play the win/lose game – and play it well. But this is seldom, if ever, their first choice.

Negotiation is a Process

As they prepare for a negotiation, successful/effective negotiators recognize the fact that negotiation is a dynamic process of give and take. They know that there are a number of concession dynamics that almost always occur in successful negotiations.

Participants tend to start with opening positions that are fairly far apart. As the negotiation moves forward, initial concessions are replaced with increasingly smaller ones and the participants work towards finding a mutually acceptable point between each of their opening positions.

Getting the Results You Want

As you experience these dynamics, what and how you concede is a powerful combination of art and a science that can move you closer to or further away from a successful/effective result. Concede too much or too quickly, or be inflexible in your concession strategy and you may very quickly find yourself on the losing side of the negotiation.

In my negotiation experience, I’ve long noticed that the cheapest concession you can make, the one that costs you the least and yields the most, is to give respect. William Ury

To manage quickly changing dynamics, successful/effective negotiators develop and use concession strategies that give them the best chance of achieving successful results with, not at the expense of the relationship. Here are 10 key concession strategies they always keep in mind as they plan their win/win negotiations…

What You Need to Know: 10 Powerful Concession Strategies

Concessions may be the lifeblood of business negotiations.  Chester L. Karrass

  1. Concessions are an important part of every negotiation. They are expected. Before you enter a negotiation, make sure you’ve planned the various goals, positions and underlying interests (needs/priorities) you are prepared to trade for concessions of equal value from your counterpart. Negotiation is movement. Be prepared for yours when the time comes.
  1. Write a list of the concessions you’re willing to make and what you want in return. Prioritize the list in order of “most important to you” and “least important to you”. Your list should also include a guesstimate of how much you think your counterpart values each potential concession.
  1. Never make a concession without asking for something of equal value in return. “I am prepared to do this, if you are prepared to do that.” Your counterpart should quickly understand that whenever you offer to make a concession, this concession is contingent upon a reciprocal concession of equal value. When either you or your counterpart doesn’t reciprocate, relationships are bruised and trust is diminished. Unilateral concessions are the same as negotiating against yourself. This is a negotiating strategy, not a winning

Concessions should always be yielded grudgingly. Conceding too easily or too soon will raise the expectations of the other side and result in their taking what you’ve done for granted. Herb Cohen

  1. Large initial concessions weaken your negotiating credibility. Your opening position (Most Acceptable Result – MAR), the one that you tried to convince your counterpart was realistic and credible, is quickly discredited. Your counterpart is thinking, “If there is that much slack in the opening position, I wonder how much more there is”. The negotiation gets tighter in direct proportion to your credibility. Concede the least amount necessary to keep the negotiation moving. Making multiple small concessions indicates flexibility. Where possible, concede in diminishing amounts.
  1. Concessions made must be concessions understood. Be sure your counterpart clearly understands and appreciates what you are prepared to concede, including the particular concession’s cost and value to you. And they should know right away that your offer of this concession is contingent upon your receipt of a reciprocal concession of equal value.

In negotiation, there’s no reason to let actions speak for themselves. When you’ve made a significant concession, be sure to communicate exactly how much you’ve given away and what the sacrifice means to you. By doing so, you’ll not only affect the other party’s perceptions of your goodwill but trigger your partner’s desire to reciprocate, and increase the level of mutual trust. Deepak Malhotra

  1. How quickly you offer concessions is just as important (and in some cases, more important) than what you concede. Make your concessions slowly. Those that come too quickly or too easily don’t feel like real concessions.

A concession granted too easily does not contribute to the other party’s satisfaction nearly as much as one that they struggle to obtain. Chester L. Karrass

  1. During the course of a negotiation, concessions granted in return for concessions of equal value from the other side should not be made with the intention to withdraw later. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be! The negotiation isn’t final until the agreement is made. If the negotiation heads in a direction that is not in your best interests, don’t be afraid to take concessions off the table. Remember, it ain’t over until it’s over.
  1. Splitting the difference is a common concession strategy. But before you go ahead and use it, be aware of the fact that, more often than not, it is your counterpart who suggests this approach because the position that splits the difference is usually in their favor. Only split the difference when the new position is in your best interests. In other words, when you are well within your settlement range and close to a deal. If that is not the case, just say, “I can’t agree to that”.
  1. Keep track of both the concessions you make and those made by your counterpart. Negotiations are sometimes complex, drawn out affairs that require a variety of trade-offs between both parties before a final agreement is made. To demonstrate your flexibility, your counterpart might need a reminder of the concessions you’ve already made during the course of the negotiation.
  1. Most negotiations go right down to the wire. The final, most mutually acceptable result often needs that last bit of give and take on the part of both sides. Make sure you have a little extra in the tank as a final concession to close the deal.

What You Need to Do

To be a successful/effective negotiator, in other words, a win/win negotiator, you must do two things:

First… manage your counterpart’s perception of what is the possible, probable and ultimate result of a negotiation. How? By developing and using a well thought out concession strategy. One that offers a variety of innovative options and creative combinations to satisfy the interests (needs/priorities) of both parties at the lowest cost to one another.

Second… present your concession strategy in a way that advances negotiation relationships by building trust and credibility through a win/win attitude and demeanor.

While the 10 powerful concession strategies above will point you in the right direction, how well you’re able to manage your counterpart’s perceptions and present your concession strategy, is what will translate into how well your negotiations achieve successful, win/win Results with Relationship. That final vital strategy can be found here: 10 Amazing Secrets of Successful/Effective (Win/Win) Negotiators.

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way. Henry Boyle Click To Tweet


Dr. Don MacRae is the author and passionate leader of Situational Communication® and the CEO of Lachlan Enterprises Incorporated (The Lachlan Group).

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