The idea of acceptance time is so simple that it is often overlooked when negotiating. Yet, when understood, it has the power to make each of us more effective.
People need time to accept ideas that are new or different. Both parties walk into a negotiating session with somewhat unrealistic goals. They start with all kinds of misconceptions and assumptions. Being human, they hope that their goals will be easily met. The process of negotiating is usually a rude awaking. The low price hoped for by a buyer begins to look impossible. The easy sale that a seller longs for eludes him or her. The need for new production tools, engineering equipment, or software is confronted by an inflexible budget or competing demands for corporate resources.
Reality is resisted—resulting in deadlock or an unrealistic agreement that soon falls apart.
Can we expect a buyer, seller, engineer, or manager to adjust to new and undesired realities immediately? Of course not. Resistance to change is universal. It takes time to get used to ideas that are foreign or unpleasant. We can even get used to the reality of death given a long enough period to do so.
Acceptance time is as important in negotiation as it is in life. By giving the other party acceptance time, reinforcing your own ideas with more information, and being open to the new ideas of the other party, you stand a greater chance of reaching a better understanding and a longer lasting agreement.