Give to Get Concession-Trading

Never give anything away without getting something back is an old negotiation adage. Yet how well is this performed?

Utilize the Social Convention of Reciprocity

To make this easy consider a proposition made by a mother to her five-year old child:

Notice that the mother has locked herself into the specific concrete action of reading a story. Notice also that she demands the child make the concession first, and that her demand is a hypothetical 'if'. This might leave the child with the thought there are other options available instead of eating vegetables.

At least there is an attempt to create an exchange of concessions. This is much better than the negotiator who gives away concessions unilaterally failing to consider what might be gained in return.

“Delete the words ‘concession-making’ from your negotiation vocabulary and replace with ‘concession-trading’. Generally
seek to trade your concessions in exchange for concessions from the other side.” Michael Hudson

Those negotiators who are more skilled make use of the powerful convention of to create an urge to respond. If I do something for you then I establish a social contract containing the expectation that you will do something for me.

At ENSI  we recommend that negotiators consider carefully how they formulate their concession-trading. This is in fact opposite to the above examples.

The approach we recommend is that you make your tentative offer first and immediately link it to claiming something specific back from the other party.

Tips on Creating Conditional Offers

Avoid making unilateral concessions. Seek something in return. Utilize the Conditional Offer 'IF/THEN' technique.

  • The aim is to create in the other party a social urge to reciprocate
  • To do this you must offer first – not make a demand on them first
  • The key skill is to make your offer tentatively by being hypothetical
  • This retains for you the possibility to review and change your offer
  • Then request from the other party something specific in return

For example, which of the following conditional offers is the more powerful and gives you 'wriggle room'?

(A) “IF you increase your volume by 5,000 units (hypothetical demand on them) THEN we will offer you a five percent discount (concrete offer by us).”

(B) “IF we were to offer you a five percent discount (hypothetical possibility by us) THEN will you increase the volume by 5,000 units (specific request on them).”

We would highly recommend option (B).

And while you are doing this, always calculate the true value of your concession from the viewpoint of the other party.

To discuss this article in more depth and explore developing your negotiation capabilities, please contact us via email or call +612 9299 9688.

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ENS International (ENSI) provides negotiation consulting and training services helping people and organizations think and act differently to achieve more. 

Negotiators gain the edge using proven ENSI influencing processes incorporating commercial psychology with a deep understanding of human behaviour. ENSI delivers through Consulting Services and In-House or Open Course training. 

With over 60 Practitioners working within 73 countries we have a depth of experience across a diverse range of sectors.

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