123rf45345529-bothThe Law of Timing says: Timing is everything in a negotiation.

A negotiation can be made or unmade by the time at which it takes place. There is a too soon and a too late in every situation. Whenever possible, you must plan strategically and use the timing of the negotiation to your advantage. There is a better time to buy and a better time to sell in almost every case. And when your timing is right, you will always get a better deal than when it is not.

The first corollary of the Law of Timing is: “The more urgent the need, the less effective the negotiator.”

[quotesright]If you are in a hurry to close a deal, your ability to negotiate well on your own behalf diminishes dramatically.[/quotesright] If the other person is eager to make the deal, he or she is functioning under a disadvantage that you can exploit to your advantage.

For example, every company has sales targets for each month, each quarter, and each year. Sales managers are tasked with hitting these numbers. They are dependent on them for their jobs, their incomes, and their bonuses. Every salesperson has a sales quota for each month as well. Therefore, when you are buying any large-ticket item, you will almost always get the best deal if you wait until the end of the month when the pressure is on to hit the targets.

The second corollary of the Law of Timing says: “The person who allows himself to be rushed will get the worst of the bargain.”

Rushing or using time pressure is a common tactic in negotiating and you must be alert to other people trying to use it on you. [quotes]People will often tell you that you have to make up your mind quickly or it will be too late.[/quotes] Whenever you hear this, you should take a deep breath and patiently ask questions to find out just how urgent the situation really is.

If someone insists that he needs an immediate decision, you can reply by saying, “If you must have an answer now, then the answer is no. But if I can take some time to think about it, the answer may be different.”

On the other hand, you can use this tactic to your advantage by running out the clock so the other person has no time left and has to make a decision on your terms. Just don’t let someone else do it to you.

The third corollary of the Law of Timing says: “You resolve 80 percent of the vital issues of any negotiation in the last 20 percent of the time allocated for the negotiation.”

Probably because of the prevalence of Parkinson’s Law, which says, “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it,” most of the key issues in a negotiation get jammed into the final phase of the discussions. [quotesright]Up to this part of the negotiation, there seems to be a natural human tendency to procrastinate[/quotesright] on the resolution of the most important issues.

What this means for you is that you must be patient in a negotiation. You must be prepared for the key issues to be resolved at the last minute. Setting a schedule and a deadline for a decision will help. If it should happen that the key issues are resolved earlier, you can be pleasantly surprised. But this is the exception, not the rule.

A final point with regards to timing. Whenever possible, you should delay in making an important decision. At the very least, [quotesright]don’t allow the other person or persons to rush you into a decision by suggesting that, if you don’t act now, it will be too late.[/quotesright] Whenever the item under negotiation involves a great deal of money, a long life of the product or long duration of the decision, or it is the first time that you have negotiated in this area, buy time for yourself. Take at least 24 hours, if not an entire weekend, to think it over before acting. Use time as a weapon to strengthen your hand and to improve your ability to make better decisions.

How you can apply this law immediately:

  1. When you negotiate, set deadlines for the other party whenever possible. Remember the rule in sales, “No urgency, no sale!” You can always extend the deadline if the other party balks or disagrees.
  2. Avoid deadlines for yourself whenever possible. Tell the other party that you are not going to make a decision today, no matter what is agreed to. Give yourself at least 24 hours to think in over before deciding. Sleep on it as a matter of course. You will be amazed at how much better you think when you have put some time between yourself and the decision.


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