The Negotiator Magazine

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On the right hand side of the page, list the landlord's options. How specialized is this building? How hard would it be for him to find a new tenant? Would they pay more or would he have to rent it for less? How much would he have to spend on improvements or remodeling to satisfy a new tenant?

Now you must do one more thing. You must compensate for the fact that whichever side of the negotiating table you're on, you always think you have the weaker hand. After all, you know all about the pressure that's on you, but you don't know about the pressure that's on the landlord. One of the things that makes you a more powerful negotiator is understanding that you always think you have the weaker hand and learning to compensate for that. So, when you list each side's alternatives in this way, you'll probably end up with the conclusion that the landlord has more alternatives than you do. So compensate for that, but if you do so and clearly the landlord still has more alternatives than you do, he's the one who has the power. You should avoid time pressure and negotiate the lease renewal with plenty of time to spare. However, if clearly you have more alternatives available to you than the landlord does, put him under time pressure by negotiating at the last moment.

When President Clinton called President Carter to tell him that he had already started the invasion, and Carter had 30 minutes to leave the country, it was an ultimate example of applying time pressure to a negotiation. The only problem was that Clinton was putting time pressure on the wrong side. We had all the power in that negotiation because we had all the options. It should have been Carter putting time pressure on Cedras, not Clinton putting time pressure on Carter.

Because being under time pressure weakens your hand, you should never reveal to the other side that you have a deadline.

Let's say for example, that you have flown to Dallas to resolve a negotiation with a hotel developer and you have a return flight at 6 o'clock. Sure, you're eager to catch that flight-but don't let the other people know. If they do know you have a 6 o'clock flight, be sure to let them know you also have a 9 o'clock back-up flight or, for that matter, you can stay over for as long as it takes to work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

If they know you're under time pressure, they could delay the bulk of the negotiations until the last possible minute. Then there's a real danger that you'll give things away under that kind of time pressure.

In my Power Negotiating seminars, I set up exercises so the students can practice negotiating. They may have 15 minutes to complete a negotiation, and I impress on them the importance of reaching agreement within that time period. As I walk around the room eavesdropping on the progress of the negotiations, I can tell that during the first 12 minutes they have trouble making any progress. Both sides are stonewalling the issues and there is very little give and take. At 12 minutes, with 80 percent of the time used up, I take the microphone and tell them they have only 3 minutes left. Then I continue periodic announcements to keep the time pressure on them and end with a countdown of the seconds from five to zero. It's very clear to see that they make 80 percent of the concessions in the last 20 percent of the time available to negotiate.

So, the rule in negotiating is that 80 percent of the concessions occur in the last 20 percent of the time available to negotiate. If demands are presented early in a negotiation, neither side may be willing to make concessions, and the entire transaction might fall apart. If, on the other hand, additional demands or problems surface in the last 20 percent of the time available to negotiate, both sides are more willing to make concessions.

Think of the last time that you bought a piece of real estate. It probably took about 10 weeks from the time you signed the initial contract to the time you actually became the owner of the property. Now think of the concessions that were made. Isn't it true that during the last 2 weeks when things came up to be renegotiated, both sides became more flexible?

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