There is a right and wrong time to negotiate.  Time has a language of its own that can improve the chances of agreement or plunge a discussion into the morass of deadlock and emotions.  A good negotiator is sensitive to time and how it affects results.

A large number of Vietnamese have settled in California’s OrangeCounty.  Californians rarely bargain when shopping at a supermarket but the Vietnamese do.  When they arrived, they were disappointed to discover that the market maintained a fixed price policy on canned goods and packaged products purchased in small quantities.

Ever alert for bargaining opportunities, the Vietnamese soon learned that some store managers gave discounts on case and half-case orders.  As time went on they discovered that they could receive concessions on time-based groceries, produce and bakery products.  At 9:00 AM bananas were 80 cents a pound, but by 5:00 PM, just before the store closed for the night, they could buy bananas for 15 cents a pound.

Important decisions are made because the clock says so.  April 15, Christmas and the last day of the year have caused many an order to be signed and many a piece of property to be bought or sold.  Time speaks with a loud voice in every business.  There are slow and busy periods.  There are slow and fast pay periods.  There are seasons when new models emerge and the old ones are discounted.

A good sales negotiator pays attention to time and knows when to negotiate.  The timing of the offer can be critical.  An opening offer or counteroffer made too quickly can signal weakness.  A quick concession can send the message that lots more will be made.  A last and final offer made too soon may not be credible, but one made after considerable discussion may be perceived as firm.

What amazes me is that so many people are insensitive to time in their relationships.  They plunge ahead with what they want to say or do as though time were not a factor.  It is.  The right time can make something happen.  The wrong time can make an otherwise simple difference of opinion appear irreconcilable.

From now on, say to yourself, “Have I picked the right time?” before deciding when to negotiate with the other person or when to make the next concession.  The time of day, day of the week, and month of the year can make a big difference.

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