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Four Strategies for Making Concessions in Negotiation

09 January 2024

Negotiation, at its core, is a delicate dance of give-and-take. While the aim is to secure the best outcome, concessions often play a crucial role in reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. Knowing how to make concessions strategically can be the difference between a successful negotiation and a stalemate. Here are four effective strategies for making concessions:

1. Prioritize and Plan

Before entering negotiations, it’s crucial to establish your priorities and identify areas where you can be flexible. Determine your must-haves and nice-to-haves, understanding the aspects you’re willing to concede on without compromising your primary objectives.

Strategy Tip: Create a concession plan outlining the points you’re willing to give up, their respective values, and the conditions under which you’ll offer them. This preparation helps maintain clarity and prevents impulsive concessions that may weaken your position.

2. Trade-offs and Package Deals

Negotiations often involve multiple issues or elements. Utilize the strategy of trading concessions across different aspects to create a package deal that satisfies both parties. By bundling various concessions together, you can ensure that each side gains value while giving up something in return.

Strategy Tip: Identify items that hold different levels of importance for both parties and propose exchanges that acknowledge these differences. This method allows for creative solutions that generate value for both sides.

3. Incremental Concessions

Avoid giving away too much too soon. Gradual concessions can build trust and maintain a sense of balance in the negotiation process. By starting with smaller, less significant concessions, you can create momentum and establish a positive atmosphere for further discussions.

Strategy Tip: Use incremental concessions strategically to test the waters and gauge the other party’s willingness to reciprocate. This approach also allows you to maintain control over the negotiation pace.

4. Focus on Interests, Not Positions

Shift the focus from entrenched positions to underlying interests. Understanding the motivations driving each party’s stance can lead to more creative solutions and flexible concessions. By addressing the core interests rather than specific demands, you can find innovative compromises that meet both parties’ needs.

Strategy Tip: Ask open-ended questions to uncover the underlying interests and concerns of the other party. This information can guide your concessions towards solutions that align with their interests while protecting your own.


Negotiation is a dynamic process that demands a balance between assertiveness and flexibility. Effective concession-making involves strategic planning, creativity, and a deep understanding of the underlying motivations. By employing these four strategies – prioritizing and planning, trade-offs, incremental concessions, and focusing on interests – negotiators can navigate the give-and-take of concessions while steering towards mutually beneficial agreements. Remember, concessions aren’t just about giving in; they’re about achieving the best possible outcome for all involved.