Using Time as a Negotiation Tactic

Whether we are talking about one's personal or professional life, time is a precious commodity. Appreciate the time you are investing in resolving a dispute or negotiating an issue. Make sure your time is warranted before over-investing in a minor issue's resolution. Unlike money, wasted time is not recoverable. It is a limited commodity that should be wisely rationed.

In addition to the currency of a transaction, time is likely to be the second most important commodity in a settlement conference. To use time strategically it needs to be understood.

Examples of how time impacts a negotiation or settlement conference include not only the time taken to attend a conference or meeting but also the actual time of the meeting plus the preparation time, the travel time to and from the meeting, and the time to prepare and review the documents required to memorialize the meeting.

You can manage the time consumed by a settlement conference by:

- Hosting the meeting at your office. This eliminates travel time and time lost in traffic.
- Setting the agenda to keep the meeting dialogue focused.
- Allow the other party to draft the settlement documents. This allows you to only review the documents.
- Send them edits to be incorporated into the draft document.
- Establish a set time when your secretary is to interrupt your meeting for a "urgent" matter. If the meeting is not making good progress, you will have an excuse to cut it short. If progress is being made and your continued participation is warranted, you can always make the meeting a higher priority.
- Add negotiating team members to assist in the research and preparation for the meeting.

When considering the time investment of taking on a dispute, consider the lost opportunity time to work on other tasks or spend with your family or on a hobby. Time is a consumable. You can't simply go to the bank and get more. Make sure you have prioritized your activities and this dispute merits your attention.

Because time is important to others it can and should be used as a negotiating tactic.

- Extend the time to settle to force resolution: If the issue is a minor irritant for the other person, being openly willing to prolong the time it will take to settle the issue may motivate the other party to settle rather than waste additional time at the negotiating table.
- Compress the time allowed to settle: If the issue is a minor irritant for you, being openly willing to walk away leaving the matter unsettled may motivate the other party to settle rather than risk losing the opportunity. This is especially effective if you have other options and the other party does not.
- Recognize the time being spent on the matter: By acknowledging the investment in time being made by both parties to address the situation you increase its stature or value and make the process more meaningful. This helps at times to get people to become more serious in their roles and diligent in seeking to reach an accord.

Time is a valuable commodity to us all. It is often overlooked. In today's fast-paced world, time is a true commodity to be managed and used as part of any negotiation.