Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

“I just bought us 48 hours,” star lawyer Harvey Specter told his understudy in the USA Network legal drama series Suits. He said this after getting his incarcerated client to hit him, a shocking move that gave them sufficient time to elicit a confession from the real murderers and free his wrongly convicted client.

My wife and I have been binge-watching Suits, which includes a ton of negotiations. Here’s one of many lessons we’ve observed.

Don’t underestimate the value of taking a break in negotiations.

Here are four major advantages to taking a break. Next week I will discuss its disadvantages. Both must be considered before strategically deciding to request a pause in the negotiations.

1. Provides a cooling off period

We’ve all lost our temper or come close to it in family and other high-stakes negotiations. The best response is often to take a break. But take one that lasts at least 20 minutes. It takes that amount of time for your fight-or-flight emotional hijacking to dissipate. It also gives you an opportunity to regain your composure, prevent escalation, possibly depersonalize the environment, and bring back to the table some perspective.

Of course, you might want to take more than 20 minutes – that’s a minimum!

2. Relieves in-the-moment pressure so you can be more strategic

Some people spontaneously act and react quite effectively. Others not so well. Regardless, a little time to consider what to do will almost always help you be more strategic. Use the time to refocus on your goals and strategic plan.

Every parent knows about timeouts – we certainly do. Our kids know all about them too! There’s a reason timeouts get a lot of emphasis in almost all family negotiation books.

3. Creates an opportunity to brainstorm and be creative

Highly pressurized and stressful situations reduce creativity. Taking a break can counteract this and create an environment for your team – and theirs – to brainstorm and explore ways to satisfy the parties’ fundamental interests.

4. Time to create leverage

Timing in negotiations may help or hurt you. So if you’re under the gun leverage-wise, a break may give you an opportunity to strengthen your Plan B and/or weaken your counterpart’s Plan B.

This happened in Harvey Specter’s negotiation in Suits – he manufactured a break and then changed his leverage by turning a losing case into a winner. It led to his client’s freedom.

 Latz’s Lesson: FLatz’s Lesson: Advantages of taking a break include a cooling off period, a more strategic reaction, effective brainstorming and creativity, and possibly even stronger leverage.ranklin knew that informal socializing, rapport-building, and compromising form invaluable elements in almost all challenging negotiations.

 * Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation, a national negotiation training and consulting company that helps individuals and organizations achieve better results with best practices based on the experts’ research. He can be reached at 480.951.3222 or

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