Think about the negotiations you’ve been part of, and how unsettling the prospect of uncertainty can be. In a courtroom, what if there’s a question about whether your star witness will show up? Or what if that person turns on you, right there on the stand, and must suddenly be treated as hostile? A good negotiator is going to seize on any advantage presented through uncertainty, whether the death of an elderly witness in a decades-old murder case or the disappearance of someone deemed by both sides pivotal to the outcome, and will take immediate steps to make good use of that uncertainty.
Lever #2 - TIME
THE POWER OF THE DEADLINE
The importance of time in a negotiation can’t be overstated. The best quarterbacks are legendary for their two-minute drills, which involves managing a running clock while thinking on their feet. In that sense, clock management becomes akin to a negotiation timeline, with the best negotiators are always contemplating when or if to make an offer based on how much time may be left to work with. To borrow from the late Kenny Rogers, a good negotiator knows not only when to hold them, he knows when to fold them.
Lever #3 - OPPORTUNITY
THE APPEAL TO NEEDS AND DESIRES
There’s a reason the phrase opportunity knocks has survived so many generations. An opportunity presents a chance – maybe a good chance – to better your situation and even win a negotiation. Think back to learning, while at your high school locker between classes, that the girl you were absolutely smitten with had just learned her boyfriend was cheating and dumped him. Would it be the right time to approach her? Maybe not, but you would at least have the opportunity to do so, and she might respond favorably. Likewise, you learn through the grapevine at work that a veteran salesman who’s not pulling his weight has accepted early retirement – and that his account list will be divvied up. You have the opportunity to lobby with the sales manager for that account list, and you know from experience that the early bird gets the proverbial worm when it comes to that sales manager.
Lever #4 - SANCTION
THE THRET IS REAL
Sanction, in the eyes of many, represents being publicly humiliated, financially lacerated, or perhaps both. It certainly isn’t a word that implies a good outcome and, as such, represents a powerful threat during any negotiation. The perceived loss that may accompany a sanction of some kind could greatly damage one’s reputation; from there, it isn’t much of a leap to that person’s career taking a sizable hit. The strong negotiator is always ready to bring sanction into play when the situation calls for it, as such action can represent a true game-changer in the negotiation.