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  • Jharna Jagtiani

#Negotiation101: The Power of Breaks

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Leveraging Timeouts for Effective Negotiations.

In the world of negotiation, the importance of taking breaks cannot be overstated. While the intensity and pressure of negotiations can make it tempting to push forward without pause, strategically incorporating breaks into the negotiation process can yield numerous benefits.

This article explores the advantages of taking breaks during negotiations and provides practical tips on how to use them effectively. Through a case study featuring Indian names, we'll delve into real-world scenarios to demonstrate the positive impact of breaks on negotiation outcomes.

Enhanced Clarity and Focus

Taking breaks allows negotiators to step back from the immediate pressures of the negotiation and gain a fresh perspective. In the case study of Ravi and Deepika negotiating a business partnership, Ravi suggests a short break after a particularly intense discussion. During this break, Ravi takes a walk outside the negotiation room to clear his mind. When they reconvene, Ravi feels more focused and gains a clearer understanding of his priorities. This newfound clarity allows him to articulate his position more effectively and make better-informed decisions.

Emotional Regulation

Negotiations can often evoke strong emotions, such as frustration, anger, or even excitement. Taking breaks provides an opportunity for negotiators to manage their emotions and maintain a composed demeanor. In the case study, Deepika notices her frustration escalating during a heated exchange with Ravi. Sensing the need for a break, she suggests a brief recess to gather her thoughts. During the break, Deepika engages in deep breathing exercises to calm herself. As a result, when they resume negotiations, she is better equipped to handle the situation with a more level-headed approach.

Information Processing and Strategy Development

Negotiations often involve complex information, data, and proposals that require careful analysis. Taking breaks allows negotiators to process and absorb the information presented before formulating strategic responses. In our case study, Ravi and Deepika are negotiating a contract, and Ravi proposes a recess to review the terms and conditions. During the break, Ravi takes the opportunity to consult with his team and strategize their next move. This thoughtful consideration and analysis during the break enable Ravi to present a well-prepared counterproposal that aligns with his objectives.

Building Rapport and Relationship Building

Negotiations are not solely about reaching an agreement but also about building relationships and establishing trust. Taking breaks provides an opportunity for informal interactions that foster rapport between the parties. In the case study, Ravi and Deepika decide to have a casual lunch together during a break. This relaxed setting allows them to connect on a personal level, share stories, and build rapport outside the confines of the negotiation table. This enhanced rapport contributes to a more collaborative and constructive negotiation environment.

Creative Problem-Solving

Breaks in negotiations offer a valuable opportunity for creative problem-solving. Stepping away from the negotiation room and engaging in activities unrelated to the negotiation can stimulate fresh ideas and perspectives. In the case study, Ravi and Deepika encounter a roadblock while discussing pricing terms. Sensing the need for a creative breakthrough, they decide to take a break and visit a local art gallery together. Inspired by the artwork, they return to the negotiation table with a newfound creative approach to address the pricing challenge.

Case Study: Ravi and Deepika - Navigating Breaks for Success

Ravi and Deepika are entrepreneurs negotiating the terms of a strategic partnership. As the negotiations progress, tensions rise, and disagreements arise. Recognizing the need for a breather, Ravi suggests taking a short break. During the break, Ravi takes a walk to clear his mind and refocus his objectives. Deepika, on the other hand, engages in breathing exercises to regulate her emotions. When they reconvene, both Ravi and Deepika bring a renewed sense of clarity and composure to the negotiation. They are able to address their concerns more effectively, engage in productive dialogue, and ultimately reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

The case study of Ravi and Deepika exemplifies the positive impact of taking breaks in negotiations and highlights the potential for achieving successful outcomes through this strategic approach.

Taking breaks during negotiations is not a sign of weakness but a strategic move towards achieving better outcomes. The benefits of breaks in negotiation, including enhanced clarity, emotional regulation, improved information processing, relationship building, and creative problem-solving, are evident through the case study of Ravi and Deepika. By strategically incorporating breaks, negotiators can navigate the complexities of negotiations with a refreshed mindset, fostering collaboration and reaching mutually beneficial agreements.


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