The End Game (the last few minutes) is usually the most stressful part of a negotiation. Because most of the “fat” has been cut away, the concessions are often painful, and deadline pressure intensifies the stress. Everybody knows that there is a lot at stake, and you may not have enough time to think carefully or correct your mistakes.
Because this tension causes many serious mistakes, the critical personal quality during the End Game is good nerves. Without them you can settle too quickly and leave lots of money on the table.
The tension can make you miss clear signals that other side will go further, perhaps much further: They might say something like this, “We think it’s a fair deal for both of us, but, if necessary, we can make adjustments.” Instead of exploiting this obvious opportunity to get a better deal, some people just settle, leaving lots of money on the table: “OK, glad we’re both happy.”
To reduce these stresses and their negative effects, perform three kinds of preparation:
- Psychological: You need every bit of your mental and physical energy to bepsychologically ready for the stressful Get control of your nerves, and make sure you’re not tired, not even slightly intoxicated, or fuzzy-headed.
- Informational: You should have a fairly clear picture of the others’ objectives, power, strategy, and so on. If you don’t have this information,you can’t play the End Game well. You don’t have enough time to get that information; you need it
- Positional: You don’thave time to create a good position; you need it when the End Game begins. If you don’t have it already, try to create it as quickly as possible.
What should you do if you’re not well-prepared? Get out of the End Game. Extend the deadline to get time to take whatever steps you needed to prepare for the next End Game.
The others may refuse to extend it and escalate the costs of not meeting it. It takes nerve to stand up to that pressure, but you can’t afford to yield to it. If you enter the End Game unprepared, you’ll probably make costly mistakes. If you’re not ready for the End Game, don’t play it.
Countless people have ignored that simple principle, and they almost always regretted it.
When you’re well-prepared, shift your focus to the End Game’s four primary tasks:
- Test Their limits. Learn how far you can push them.
- Communicate Finality. Make them believe that you’ve reached your limit; you can’t go further.
- Use Deadline Pressure. Make that pressure and tension work for you, not against
- Let Them Save Face. Let them feel they have won by your words and body language.
Future blogs will tell you how to take each step.
This blog is based on my newest book, Negotiate to Win: Gaining the Psychological Edge, 2d Edition. For a free Kindle copy of it click HERE.