Tapering Concessions In Negotiations

You know what sucks?!? Conceding. But you know what sucks even more than conceding? Conceding more than you have to or should. It may surprise you to find out that there’s actually a method to conceding that reduces the amount of money/risk/warranties you might lose. And that same method conditions the other party into believing there’s not much more to gain and creates perception that asking for more isn’t worth it.

Hopefully you’ve been paying attention to how much emphasis I place on the importance of planning and strategy. Whenever you go into a negotiation you should know how much you can give up (concede), regardless of what area its in (price, warranty, terms, etc.).

When you make concessions in a negotiation you actually have the ability to condition the other party into believing that there’s not much more money to gain by asking for more. This is done though body language and by conceding in a certain way and both should be used together. Also, I’ll use this as an opportunity to say, don’t ever give something up without asking for something in return (trading) – but we should save this for another post.

Using Body Language – Anytime someone asks you for something it should physically pain you to give something up. And that physical pain should show up in your body language. I know it sounds like I’m over dramatizing it, but I feel like I cannot overemphasize how important is for you to respond with what looks like physical pain when someone asks for a concession. You know how you respond when you stub your toe or hit your funny bone, that’s what I’m talking about.

Using Strategic Concessions – Let’s say for example you’re selling something for $100 and you know you can go down to $90. When you concede, there are a few things you should do:

  1. Do not ever concede it all in one go – because, well, why would you?
  2. Taper your concessions – Many people make the mistake of conceding the majority of what they have and then not having much left to give in subsequent concessions. This leaves the other party angry because they were expecting more concessions and so naturally they believe that you’re holding out on them. The other major issue that many most have is that they make predictable concessions. If there is a $10 delta that you can move within and you concede in equal part at $2 for every ask, you become predictable and the other party knows that every time they ask, you give up $2, until you don’t. So how do you fix these issues? Well, as the blog post title suggests, taper your concessions. Start off with something at a higher number and taper down with each ask. So for example, if there is a $10 delta you can work within, then you might start with $2, then move to $1.50, then to $0.77, then maybe to $0.23. With each subsequent concession you taper down (not in equal and predictable amounts). This gives the perception that there is a series of diminishing returns with every ask.

Perception is everything. The other party starts to believe that asking for more becomes less and less fruitful and when you begin to combine your concessions with increasing displays of body language and tone that exhibit pain, you begin to show the other party that asking for more is not worth it.