Monday, February 27, 2017

Playing the Long Game

When in a negotiation of any kind, it's important to understand the time horizon that each party is bringing into the discussion. Because the one with the longer time horizon will have an advantage over the one with the shorter one.

If you need a resolution sooner than that of your negotiating partner, you will be forced to make decisions from a more limited set of options. Whatever the reason for the shorter horizon--fewer resources, less support from your leadership, more competing priorities--the implicit need to get the deal done will close off avenues of approach that may be readily acceptable to the partner across the table. They, compared to you, will have the luxury of time. Next week, next month, next year--it won't change their bottom line but it will have a dramatic effect on yours.

For this and several other reasons, it's always preferable to be the party with the longer time horizon in an negotiation. The ability to play the long game grants tremendous strategic advantages and allows for the consideration of far more variables.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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