Using Time in Negotiations

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He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.
— Victor Hugo

What things rob you of time on a daily basis? The following outcomes are the usual suspects – although this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Drop in visitors
  • Disorganised meetings
  • Telephone interruptions
  • Too many emails
  • Procrastination

Whether you are talking about a live negotiation or a major community project, there are times when you need to take decisive action. Use time, yours and others, more efficiently and effectively.

To use time more effectively, use the following three questions throughout the negotiation process.

STOP – What do you need to stop doing in this negotiation to manage your time more effectively?

CONTINUE – What do you need to continue to do to get the best use of your time?

START – With your limited time and resources, what do you need to start doing to get the most optimal outcome and use of your time?

Then you are using time as an advantage!

These questions are deceptively simple. They are easy to ask but difficult to answer because you need to think deeply and think strategically.

The most effective questions are STOP questions because many businesses are short of resources (time, money and people). Each month, many businesses add more processes and add more systems. Managers rarely take the time to ask, “What should we stop doing?” Asking this question can free up valuable resources.

How to negotiate effectively by managing your time efficiently – putting it into practice:

  1. Be active: only you are responsible for your choices so take the initiative.
  2. Be anticipatory: act in advance to deal with expected difficulties, and have and exercise a clear vision and purpose each day.
  3. Put first things first: every morning, start work on the negotiation project by compartmentalising your tasks in order of importance and urgency, from ‘stop’ through ‘start’. Go through your list of activities, so you know what you need to do first. Make a prioritised list of everything you need to do.
  4. Be realistic: about the time you need to finish jobs. Schedule activities for only 60% of your working hours. Plan on using 20% more for those unexpected ‘demands’ that inevitably always pop-up and the remaining 20% for creative work and leadership tasks.
  5. Learn to say ‘No’ and mean it: learning how to say no helps to keep you in control and protects you from overload.
  6. Think results: when negotiating, work toward mutual benefit, and maintain this support, mutual respect and interdependence when delegating tasks to get others to assist you.
    Outstanding results are created by a strong value proposition, value is created away from the table and that takes time to develop. You are better to create joint value then argue over price.
  7. Understand, and then be understood: relationship building is the most fundamental factor of effective negotiating.
  8. Breakdown tasks: work in a way that the sum of all parts is greater than the whole. You can achieve more by breaking tasks down into manageable sizes.

Sticking to this discipline will save your sanity. You will stop feeling overwhelmed, and instead, feel and be in control. Not only will your work be so much better, but you will be so much more efficient.

Effective time management is at the core of our ability to address the demands of negotiating and other work-related activities. As Pareto says, you need to complete the 20% of crucial activities before turning your attention to the 80% of non-vital, delegable duties.