Business Negotiation November 11, 2016

Time Outs in Negotiations

In the USA we enjoy our football games. If time-outs are so critical to a football coach, they ought to be even more important during a negotiation...

In the USA we enjoy our football games.

If time-outs are so critical to a football coach, they ought to be even more important during a negotiation. The stakes are far higher!

When and how a time-out, or caucus, is called can affect the final outcome. Diplomatic negotiations are usually 10 percent conference and 90 percent time-out. Most business deals reverse this time relationship. I am in favor of lots of time-outs. They make more sense than long talks and short breaks.

I have found time-outs useful for a wide variety of purposes:

* To review what was heard or learned – new information may impact your strategy, targets, or tactics.
* To think of questions
* To develop new arguments and defenses
* To explore possible alternatives before you present them
* To develop better proof statements
* To discuss possible concessions and what will be asked for in return
* To determine the best way to react to new demands
* To determine if you should make additional demands
* To consult with experts
* To check on rules or regulations
* To analyze changes in price, specifications, costs, time or terms
* To just buy you some time

A time-out gives you time to think, to make a point more effectively, to check your facts, or to show your resolve. It provides you an opportunity to get others to help you work on an issue.

Research indicates when negotiating pressures increase, tension can be reduced before a crisis develops by having short sessions and long time-outs.

Remember, never negotiate an issue unless you are prepared for it. Something unforeseen always seems to come up in most negotiations. When it does—a time-out is called for. It might just be a caucus with yourself (i.e. Please excuse me I need to use the restroom), or a meeting among your own people to discuss the new issue. Don’t “shoot-from-the-hip” and plunge into negotiating an issue you are not prepared to negotiate.
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