How to Make the Right Concessions in a Negotiation

Most people enter into a negotiation with the realization that concessions are necessary. Every negotiation involves a little bit of give and take, as this amicable exchange of value encourages long-term partnerships. Although they are expected in negotiations, great negotiators understand that concessions should be used sparingly and with purpose. Concede too much or too little and it could negatively impact the outcome of the negotiation. To help you better understand how to concede effectively, consider the following powerful concession strategies.

Prepare Your Concessions in Advance

It is absolutely necessary to know exactly which concessions you are willing to make prior to sitting down at the negotiation table. Otherwise, you might end up conceding the wrong thing under pressure. Before the negotiation, write down a list of concessions you are willing to make and prioritize them in order from “most important to you” to “least important to you.” Your list should also include an estimation of how much your counterpart values each of your potential concessions.

Never Give Something Up Without Getting Something in Return

If you find yourself in a position where you need to make a concession, always make sure and ask for one in return. Otherwise, you are communicating that you are willing to give value away for nothing. This leaves your counterpart feeling like you either lack confidence, or you feel like you owe them something and this is not a strong position to be in as you move forward. Always demand reciprocity and never give anything away for free.

Don’t Give Too Much Too Soon

Remember that list of concessions you made? You noted which items were most and least important to you. When it comes time to make a concession, be careful not to give up too much right off the bat. This will leave your counterpart thinking, “If there is that much slack in the opening position, I wonder what else I can get.” Rather, concede the least amount necessary to keep the negotiation moving forward. Not only does this prevent you from giving up something that is most important to you, but multiple small concessions indicate that you are willing to be flexible.

How You Concede is More Important Than What You Concede

A great negotiator is much like a storyteller. They create a narrative that engages the other party. Concede slowly, as this tends to make your concession more alluring. If you concede too quickly, the other party won’t feel as if you’re making a genuine sacrifice.  When you do decide to make a concession, share with your counterpart the value of what you are giving up and make them feel richer for receiving it. This can be the difference between a good negotiator and a great one. A great negotiator really makes their counterpart feel like they got something special.

Choose Your Concessions Carefully

When you make concessions, start by giving up things that are of high value to the other party but which are low cost to you. This is one of the most effective and powerful concession strategies because it keeps the negotiation moving in a positive direction. That’s why it is so important to determine your other party’s needs prior to negotiating. This demonstrates that you care about the other party and you are willing to work alongside them to reach a win-win solution.