Sharks circle their prey to determine the prey’s ability to defend itself. Because sharks can’t see very well, they strike tentatively to measure resistance before attacking full measure. If the shark senses your fear he will consider you to be an easy prey and strike with abandon.
Part of managing the process of conflict resolution is to understand the tempo of negotiations. A mediator is accustomed to monitoring the reaction and response time of each party. In a negotiation you can and should do the same thing.
The importance of the disputed terms impacts the timing of responses. The quicker the response the more likely the other person is to nearing the point at which he or she is ready to agree on a major point. The higher the stakes, the slower the pace should be because a misstep can be costly. People will be more patient taking the time to consider your offer and if it comes close to satisfying their needs.
Patience on your part in a negotiation can:
-Garner increased concessions from the other person.
-Give you time to improve your position.
-Allow other issues to surface enabling you to understand all the aspects of the situation better.
-Flush out unknown pressures the other person is facing such as time deadlines that may give you additional options.
-Indicate strength on your part that usually yields greater power.
Patience on the part of the other person does not necessarily connote strength. In fact, it may mean that he or she is seeking more information or time before deciding what to do. If you are fully prepared, go on the offensive and press for a response.
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss the importance of being patient while you make sure you are ready to respond.