Always Know Your Counterpart’s Deadline

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Always Know Your Counterpart’s Deadline

Encourager-In-Chief: November 15th, 2017

Understand this important negotiating strategy.

Have you left a negotiation session where you were disappointed with the outcome? I’m sure it’s happened to all of us. As a recruiter for many years, one of the most important lessons I learned is that you always need to know your counterpart’s deadline. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, a counterpart is anyone on the other side of the negotiation table from you. Please note, I did not use the words opponent, adversary, challenger, or enemy. You cannot negotiate a transaction by yourself. You should be just as committed to making sure your counterpart receives a positive outcome from the negotiation as you are to getting one for yourself.

It’s important to understand, that in negotiation, the side with the shortest deadline loses.

I was once trying to catch a Delta Airlines flight out of Atlanta, Georgia. I didn’t have a boarding pass on me. There was only one seat left on the last plane returning to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that evening. I had a speaking engagement in Pennsylvania the next morning. The plane was leaving in six minutes. The airline representatives insisted that I pay a healthy penalty in order to get the last seat on that plane. I felt I was being unfairly taken advantage of; however, since my deadline was only six minutes away, I agreed to pay the fee. In this case, I had a shorter deadline.

Fortunately, once I returned home, I contacted the office of the president of Delta Airlines and explained the situation. I no longer had a six-minute deadline and was able to get them to return the entire fee. In addition, they gave me a free round-trip ticket good for anywhere in the United States. Without that short deadline, I was able to renegotiate and achieve a better outcome.

I remember one time when I was working for a staffing company, a gentleman called in because he needed some temporary help for the next morning. Initially, he said he was only price-shopping and planned on calling several other places. It was about 4:45 PM when he called me. By the time I had gotten all the information from him that I needed and told him I could fill the position, it was after 5 PM. At that point, it would have been extremely difficult for him to keep calling other staffing companies to find anyone else since most likely they would have been closed by then. As a result of his shorter deadline, he agreed to pay my price and gave me this order.

Just remember, even when somebody has a shorter deadline than you, you still want to treat them with respect and fairness. Don’t take advantage of the situation. Just be aware of it. As you saw above in the airline example, situations change and someday you may be on the other side of that negotiation. You’ll want to receive the same fair treatment you demonstrated when your counterpart had a shorter deadline.

Don’t think of the other team as your competition. They are your dancing partners
- Phil Jackson

This excerpt is taken from my Negotiation Excellence seminar.


Communication Excellence III: Negotiation Excellence


I encourage you to order my Negotiation Excellence video program which also includes this lesson in greater detail.

Negotiation Excellence


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