What is the Zone of Tolerance, Zone of Possible Agreements?
It is the Zone where if you go too high, you are unreasonable – the negotiation either doesn’t begin or breaks down quickly. Most negotiators do not expand the Zone – they keep it narrow, and thus expectations are low.
Top negotiators know they can always trade away non-essential elements – but they need to start high with a wider Zone of Tolerance than they may feel comfortable with (remember effective negotiators anticipate and accept tension and are willing to move out of their Comfort Zones).
People often say, “let’s split the difference.” When you “split the difference” of a large Zone, you automatically get more – and yet people feel as though you have been flexible and fair.
Create an Exit – Remember, no deal is better than a bad deal, and what you agree to today, determines where you begin the negotiation next time.
Understand the point at which the deal is no longer profitable, where the discussion has moved outside the Zone of Tolerance – where it doesn’t make sense. At what price? What elements make it a bad deal? Have a plan to Exit, but leave with the door open to return.
So, plan for your Goal, Start, and Exit.