Business Negotiation June 22, 2015

The Considered Response

Negotiation involves work.   People rarely bargain for the fun of it or because they have nothing better to do...

Negotiation involves work.  People rarely bargain for the fun of it or because they have nothing better to do.  They negotiate to gain satisfaction.  What we will now consider are ways to increase the value of our responses to whatever the other party offers or concedes.  Whether we say “Yes” or “No” to their offer it is important we do it right; that is, we must enhance their satisfaction and maintain a good relationship.

Concessions are normally made by both sides to bring parties together.  The person making the concession hopes to narrow or bridge the gap that separates them.  How one handles the other side’s offer can either set the stage for further improvement or serve to harden the disagreement.

A time-tested approach to adding value and credibility to your responses and counteroffers will be suggested.  I call it “The Considered Response.” One of the best negotiators I ever encountered employed the “considered response” whenever he negotiated.  It worked this way.  Whenever the other side made a demand or concession his first reaction was to listen carefully and take notes.  Then, when they were through, he would say nothing but make calculations on a sheet of paper.  After what appeared to everyone to be a longer period of time than it was he would say, “I can’t afford to accept your offer. It’s simply not enough.” His way of responding indicated to the other that he had seriously weighed their arguments and position, even though he had not agreed.

Frankly, I can’t be sure that he really figured anything out on that sheet of paper.  For all I know he might have been doodling.  But I do know that his “considered response” gave his answer credibility and respect.  It became, when negative, a stronger “No.” And when he said “yes” as he often did, the other person perceived it as a more satisfying “Yes.”

The “considered response” is a powerful tool.  By disciplining yourself not to shoot snap answers “from the hip,” your strength as a negotiator will increase.  The rule is this: The next time the other side makes a demand or offer, be it acceptable or not, don’t respond to it with a “Yes” or “No” right away.  Keep quiet and think about it for a while.  Better yet, write down on a paper a few “pros and cons” and some calculations.  Then answer “Yes” or “No” or whatever is appropriate.  Your considered response will give greater weight to your answer and greater satisfaction to the other person as well.  Few negotiating behaviors provide much time-to-think, negotiating space, response credibility and appreciation for the other’s offer or concession as a considered response. Make it part of your response pattern.
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