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Developing the concession strategy


Disciplines > Negotiation > Activities > Developing the concession strategy

The overall strategy | Tactical concessions | See also


The main part of many negotiations is a series of exchanges, where each party makes some concession from an initial position in exchange for some equivalent concession from the other party, with the overall goal of reaching agreement somewhere in the zone of agreement where both parties can accept the outcome.

Your concession strategy is the approach and detail that you will use when trading with the other person. If you know what you want and what you will give in exchange, then you are in a strong position of readiness for the actual negotiation.

The overall strategy

Your overall strategy is based on knowing what you want, what you'll give and the general approach to trading you will use.

Knowing what you want

The first question is to know what you want. You can approach this either as a specific requirement ('I want a new, racing green Jaguar XJS 2.8') or a higher-level interests, where you have an outcome that needs to be achieved ('I want to impress my friends and travel in reliable comfort').

Knowing what you'll give

The next question is what you'll give for what you want. Particularly when buying something for money, you need to decide on the maximum you will pay (and the reverse if you are selling). You can get often get a good idea of what something is worth with a little research on the internet or looking at standard pricing catalogs.

You can find many things to trade by finding variables in all kinds of different areas, from friendship to finance.

Patterns of concession

At the strategic level, you may want to know the approach you will make to conceding. An important question here is in the negotiation style you are going to use. A hard competitive approach will allow for deceptive tactics, whilst a more collaborative approach will require more ethical considerations.

A good question on concessions is whether you will make any unilateral, goodwill concessions. A simple strategy is 'tit-for-tat', where you make an initial unilateral concession, but make no further concessions until they respond.

Thus, for example, in a competitive situation you might use a High-Low start and then a Brooklyn optician separation of pricing, whilst with a collaborative approach, you might start from fair criteria and end up with splitting the difference within the zone of agreement.

A competitive concession strategy typically seeks to work in an imbalanced, way, such that you concede small points whilst expecting the other person to concede on larger points in exchange.

Handling their strategy

Your strategy must also be able to handle the strategy of the other person. You may lose out if you assume the other person is friendly and collaborative when they are actually deceptive and competitive.

Thus you might have different patterns of concession ready in case the other person is using a strategy that is not directly compatible with your approach.

Tactical concessions

At the lower level of developing concessions, it can be useful to identify detail of individual concessions and exchanges.

Balanced value exchanges

The key to exchanges is value, in that I receive something of value to me in exchange for giving something of equivalent value to you. The best balancing here is that that value is defined by the receiver, not the giver. Thus I may give you something of low value to me, but which is of high value to you, whilst you give me something that is of lower value to you but of equivalent value to me to the value you received from what I conceded to you.

Individual exchanges and packages

Concessions and exchanges can be individual I'll-give-you-this-for-that swaps, or they can be more complex sets of exchanges, for example where I give you a number of different things in a single 'package' in exchange for a package of concessions from you.

See also



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