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Let's make this simple. A concession is giving away a privilege, a fact, or a piece of your pie, and reciprocity is asking for something in return. Learning to negotiate is very much like learning to improvise. You study the fundamentals, you practice and rehearse, and when you step on stage, anything can happen, because making concessions and asking for reciprocity is for many people the most difficult part of negotiation.
It's the one thing you don't want to improvise in the moment, you want to plan what you're willing to give up and what you might want in return. Without reciprocity, a concession is a one-way transaction, or settling and caving into demands. The result is the gradual whittling away of your true interest and your preferences and sometimes your principles. So, if you're in a career negotiation, for example, you need to source your values and priorities.
Is it a deal breaker if you don't get three weeks of vacation every year, or would you be happy with 10 days? Do you absolutely need two days of telecommuting per week, or would you settle for twice a month? These are the kinds of things you need to think about and plan for before you even start talking. To help you once you sit down at the bargaining table, here are some key points to remember. When you ask for a concession, listen carefully to your bargaining partner's response and paraphrase what they've said.
Follow that up by stressing the fairness of your proposal. If your bargaining partner asks you for something in return, stress your willingness to be agreeable while also letting them know how difficult it is. If you get stuck or things seem to stall, surprise, surprise! Ask diagnostic questions to uncover the underlying reasons and get things moving again. If your requests are still being met with refusal, you can do two things.
Suggest pausing to sleep on it, or end the negotiation. Walk away. Your bargaining partner will sometimes capitulate in the moment or after thinking about it overnight. Making concessions and asking for reciprocity is about being creative with all the moving parts of the negotiation. Many people think negotiation is all about compromise. The goal is not compromise, but exchanging things of value to get to an agreement everybody is happy about.
If you don't get to agreement, it could be a good thing, because the last thing you want is to regret the outcome.
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