The Art of Making a Concession

Concessions are the language of negotiation. They indicate that you see some legitimacy in your spouse’s reasoning. Your spouse needs this. Resistance begins to soften when legitimacy is recognized.

Show gratitude for any concessions made. Acting as though you were entitled to a concession will likely close the door on your receiving future concessions. 

Concessions lose their value quickly, so, if you do agree to a concession, be sure to ask for a reciprocal concession immediately. Asking “If I do this for you, what can you do for me?” elevates the worth of the concession you are making.

DON’T, however, make the first concession. Studies indicate that doing so is rarely appreciated and often leads to expectations of further concessions.

DON’T ask for a specific concession, because that sounds too confrontational. Instead, say something like, “If I have to give a little in order for you to give a little, I will do so. I hope you will reciprocate so we can bring this thing to an end. We don’t really want to be arguing about this same issue a year from now, do we?”

A good negotiator knows the importance of raising one demand for every one or two concessions made. This tactic reduces the aggregate number of concessions and should encourage your spouse to finish quickly before you throw in any more demands.

Also, experienced negotiators report that the temptation to quit the negotiations is often the greatest just before the other side gives in. Remember this because, when you are feeling the most frustrated, your spouse probably is too. Concessions happen suddenly and without warning. Hang in there because you are always within a minute of things turning around.

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Kari and Richard are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 80 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook and DuPage counties.