Yesterday, as my wife and I were in the kitchen, she quipped, peering into the oven, that she forgot to set the timer for the final step of the recipe.
I asked what she should have set the timer for, and she said 8 minutes, but that that was just cooking time, not actual time.
Hmm. Was time different inside the oven? Was a minute not a minute?
Okay, I’m not an idiot. I know that “cooking time” just means “estimated time.” Or does it? Think about it for a moment. Is time always the same?
I’m not trying to go all Einstein on you. [Einstein is said to have said, but probably didn’t himself say, in explaining relativity, something to the effect of, “when you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.”]
Or, maybe I am, because “cooking time” as a different sort of time, a distorted time, a malleable time, is a perfect concept for use in negotiation.
Each negotiation has its own timing, not one set by a standard recipe or by a clock on the wall or on the calendar, but one that can be, and should be, set by you.
The object is not to get the deal done quickly, but to get the deal done – meaning on terms acceptable to you. Accomplishing that rarely means quickly and it always means deliberately.
Sometimes it means changing the clock to slow things down or to speed it up. Always it means deciding when to bring up issues, adding ingredients to the deal, if you will.
Other times it means imposing deadlines, real or imagined. Almost always it means ignoring deadlines.
Time in negotiation is not real time.
Instead, it’s a tool in the kitchen drawer of negotiation. A very useful tool.
Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
Mark F. Weiss