Why You Need to Know Your Concessions Before a Negotiation

Negotiation is all about give and take, and successful negotiators understand the need to prepare their concessions in advance. Without a clear plan, it is difficult to navigate unforeseen obstacles and you could easily buckle under the pressure. You might end up agreeing to something you don’t really want or giving up something that really mattered. While it is impossible to prepare for every possibility, prioritizing and preparing your concessions in advance can prevent you from making a costly mistake. Here are a few reasons why you need to be fully aware of your concessions before the negotiation even begins. 


You Need to Prioritize Your Concessions

Concessions are an inevitable part of any negotiation, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the things that really matter to you. Before you enter a negotiation, make sure you have a clear goal in mind and you fully understand your needs and wants. Write a list of concessions you would be willing to make and prioritize them in order of importance. Knowing this information will help you avoid giving up your most valued concessions too early. 


You Can Decide What You Want in Return

You should never make a concession without asking for something of equal value in return. However, if you haven’t planned for your concessions in advance, you won’t know what to ask for. Unilateral concessions are an important negotiation strategy and you need to be prepared to ask for reciprocation when the time comes. When you prepare your list of concessions, you also need to write down what you plan to ask for in return. 


You Don’t Want to Crumble Under Pressure

Negotiations can be stressful, especially when you are dealing with someone who likes to play hardball. If your counterpart is trying to strongarm you into giving something up, you might be inclined to do so if you didn’t prepare a plan in advance. On the contrary, if you know your concessions on the front end, you can feel more confident saying “no” and this can save you from conceding too much too fast. 


You Can Determine Your BATNA

Every skilled negotiator should prepare a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) prior to negotiating. This ensures that you are prepared with a backup in case things don’t go as planned. If you know your concessions beforehand, you will have a better idea of what BATNA should be and you can also determine your walk away point. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, you will at least feel confident knowing that it is time to walk away. Sometimes it is more prudent to walk away from a deal rather than conceding ineffectively.