KARRASS Effective Negotiating® Tip

Patience: The Negotiating SuperTactic

by Dr. Chester L. Karrass

Many people approach negotiating much like a Ping-Pong game. One side serves, then the other. A few quick slashes (concessions) and it's done. Then on to something else. Most of us are too impatient when it comes to negotiating.

Patience is powerful—more powerful than deadlock or threat.

It takes time to understand the issues, weigh risks, test the other party's strength, find weaknesses, know what they want, and change expectations. It takes time to discover what the other party really wants. And, patience gives the other party (and their organization) time to get used to the idea that what they wish for must be reconciled with the realities of what they can get. A quick negotiation has none of these virtues.

Patience has another big payoff during a negotiation. It provides both parties an opportunity to find how to best benefit each other. Before a negotiation begins, it is not possible for either party to know the best way to resolve problems, issues, and risks. New alternatives are discovered as information is brought to light. This discovery is part of the negotiation process. Both sides can benefit as a result of patient bargaining.

A wise man once said, "If you can't get the viewpoint, you can't understand the price." The fun in negotiation is getting the viewpoint. There's always a story. Good negotiators prepare their organization for a slow negotiation. They know that patience is the only way to get the viewpoint, the only way to understand the price.