Negotiating Tip #24:
Be Ready to Change Plans
A big problem for many negotiators is sticking to the plan when you should walk away. As Tim Harford describes in the Financial Times, “The goal appears within touching distance; it’s now or never. Tunnel vision sets in. The idea of a pause or a change of approach…becomes literally unthinkable.”
This problem lies behind many plane and ship crashes. Accident investigators call it “plan continuation bias.” It is very hard to acknowledge that a plan which once was a good idea no longer makes sense: things have changed, and the plan may not be feasible any longer.
That’s particularly true when the stakes are high and there is intense time pressure. But even in fast-moving situations, negotiators should always be reassessing the situation. One of the best ways to build that into the negotiating process is to have a team and to encourage the team members to speak up. And then there is always the obvious solution: slow down – often, the time pressure is more intense in your own mind than it is in reality.
The best way to avoid crashes is to always be ready to change course.