Making Concessions in Business Negotiations: When and How to Give In

In any business negotiation, you can expect to make concessions. Negotiating is all about give and take, so it’s important to learn how to exchange value in a respectable way that encourages long-term relationships. That said, the most experienced negotiators also understand that concessions should be used sparingly and only with a defined purpose. If you concede too much or too little, your outcome will likely be unfavorable for both parties. To that same point, making strategic concessions at the right time can be an effective negotiation tactic. In order to reach the best outcome for all parties, you must understand how to make and manage your concessions. Here are some things to keep in mind in order to make concessions work best to your advantage.

Timing of Concessions

It is important not to make concessions too early in the negotiation process. Conceding too easily or too soon will raise expectations for the other side and they will take your offer for granted. Concessions that are made too quickly don’t feel like real concessions. Buyers are often more satisfied with gradual concessions because it makes them feel like they are actually gaining something of value. Not only can immediate concessions create negative reactions from the other party, but it can also put you in a position with much less leverage. 

Concession Strategies

Prior to the negotiation, write a list of any concessions you are willing to make and what you want in return. You should even prioritize the concessions in order of “most important” to “least important.” You also want to make note of how much your counterpart values each of your concessions.


Never make a concession without asking for something of equal value in return. Any concession you make should always be contingent upon a reciprocal concession of equal value. If you or your counterpart do not reciprocate, trust is diminished and the relationship becomes tarnished. 


Always start with a small concession. Large initial concessions weaken your negotiating power. Your counterpart will be thinking, “If they are willing to give me that much right out of the gate, I wonder how much more I could get out of them.” Always concede the least amount necessary to keep the negotiation moving forward. 


When you do make a concession, be sure to communicate exactly how valuable it is to the other party. Don’t assume they will understand. You want them to understand how much you are sacrificing and how much you’ve actually given away. Not only will this help the other party to be more appreciative, but it will also trigger their desire to reciprocate.


Present your concessions in a way that builds trust and credibility with your counterpart. You want all concessions to feel like they are a win-win for all parties involved.