When and How to Make Concessions

Because negotiating is a give-and-take process, come prepared to make concessions. As you plan, identify concessions that are important to the other party but of little or no value to you. Then, during the negotiation, watch for opportunities to use your concessions advantageously.

Experienced negotiators:

  • Avoid making the first concession, and never make the first major concession. Doing so sets up the dangerous expectation that you are a pushover.
  • Ask for a trade-off by saying, “If I do that for you, what can you do for me?” Show that each time you meet one of the other party’s demands, you’ll make a counter-demand.
  • Offer concessions of decreasing value. Making smaller and smaller concessions will imply that you’re reaching your limit and will discourage the other party from asking for more.
  • Keep track of the concessions both sides make. Use the resulting scorecard to show how generous you’ve been and to encourage the other side to make additional concessions when high-value issues are on the table.

Source: Adapted from “True Negotiation: An Exchange of Satisfaction,” by Richard J. Laser (The Real Estate Professional, September/October 1990)

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