“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”—Harvey MacKay
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” –Albert Einstein
Time—how long or when—is a major factor in all negotiations. Some negotiators will say they did not have enough time to reach an agreement and some will say there was too much time.
How time is perceived may have to do with cultural background, and can affect a negotiation. In an article discussing time perceptions in Middle East peace negotiations, the following is worth noting:
“An article by Ilai Alon of Tel Aviv University and Jeanne Brett of Northwestern, however, cautions that good intentions alone may not bridge cultural differences. Specifically, they note that conflicting conceptions of time can thwart successful negotiation.”
According to Dr. Chester L. Karrass, time has power in a negotiation. Whichever party is constrained by time provides the other party with a source of strength.
Timing and schedules are crucial during a negotiation. If you are on a tight schedule, or an internal deadline is looming, time can be a source of urgency. There are times of the year that are more beneficial to buyers than sellers (and vice versa). For instance, if it is the end of the month and a salesperson needs to meet a quota, he or she may be more willing to negotiate on price.
Dr. Karrass asserts that the timing of a final offer impacts its credibility—if you do it to early the other party may think you are bluffing.
“Time talks. It is the hidden language of negotiation.”—Chester L. Karrass
How does time affect your negotiations?