Are the best negotiators bees or sloths?

The rest of the world often seems to be in a great big hurry. Cars zip by. Pedestrians charge past. Commuters race up the escalator. Everyone, it seems, had to finish something yesterday.

Yet, all this urgency masks an important fact about negotiation: Waiting is often the best negotiation strategy available, particularly when we’re in search of a deal. Resisting the urge to be urgent, it seems, can make life negotiable.

We’re often desperate for a deal—a cheaper data plan, a bigger discount on dryers, a better financing plan on cars. Despite our exhaustive search, however, it’s just not available. If our data plan is expired, our dryer is on fire, or our car is suddenly stalled, we obviously have to act. But if our data is still active; our dryer’s just beginning to creak; or our car would make it another 5000 miles, we may have the luxury of time. In those instances, it often pays to wait.

Consider three fairly obvious yet frequently-overlooked benefits of waiting:

  1. A deal might magically appear. Verizon’s or Best Buy’s or AutoNation’s management, in their infinite wisdom, might grace us with an unexpected data discount, dryer clearance, or big tent sale if we only give them time. Or a holiday with no particular relationship to cell phones, dryers, or cars might inspire a special deal. You won’t know unless you wait.
  2. You might develop an alternative. Even if no deal magically materializes on your coveted good or service, there’s always the chance that a deal might appear on an acceptable or even preferable alternative. If Verizon’s not playing ball, maybe Sprint will decide to get generous? You won’t know unless you wait.
  3. You’ll have time to think and research. Even if no deal nor alternative arises, the extra time will afford the time to consult that impressive bodily organ, the brain, or that impressive modern technology, the computer. It’s not rocket science, but often we’re in such a hurry to act (and/or so beholden to the salesman smiling sweetly in our direction) that we miss the benefits of our own logic or the internet—both promising the possibility of overlooked opportunities for savings. A waived upgrade fee on phones? A washer-dryer combo? An unnecessary feature that could be unbundled from the car? You won’t know unless you wait.

Bottom line, the best negotiators often detach themselves from the great mass of humanity and their irresistible tendency to buzz around like so many bees. Instead, they act the sloth, piecing together a deal ever-so slowly and methodically as to almost escape notice.

2 thoughts on “Are the best negotiators bees or sloths?

  1. Pingback: “My computer is slow today” | Brian Gunia

  2. Pingback: Why the best negotiators bask in bad feelings | Brian Gunia

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