Keeping Negotiations Going Over the Slow Summer Months

As I’m writing this, the temperature is getting toasty. The humidity is rising. The days are long. It’s summer time, and the living is easy.

When it comes to negotiations, deals and contracts that got started in the spring are slowing down. Or have stopped completely. And this means frustration is growing.

Whether you’re facing a summer slowdown in your negotiations, or are watching a deadline for your business creep ever-closer, you need to find a way to get momentum going – and keep it going.

Here are 4 steps to getting those negotiations buzzing along again, pronto.


The more you know about potential hurdles to closing your negotiation, the better you can plan around them. This starts with opening up the communication between yourself and your counterpart. When’s your holiday? When’s your counterpart’s?  If they need approvals from someone else…what can you find out about their availability? Trust me – most people are more than happy to share their excitement over the plans they have for the summer. It’s like a mini-vacation in the middle of a negotiation session. As a bonus, taking the time to get to know your counterpart with chats like this is relationship building gold!

Set Expectations

There’s a big caveat on this step. You’re going to have to share your need for momentum and closure of the negotiation without sounding desperate. (There’s no way around it, he with a firm deadline loses leverage…) The good news is that there are ways to set your expectations for progress that leave your leverage intact. Break down the negotiation into a few key portions, say commercial/money related items, legal/language related items and the overall deal completion. Expectations are far more manageable this way. Then, frame based on the information you gleaned during Step 1 – Sharing.

“I’d really like it if we focused on getting the commercial aspects agreed before my holiday.”

“Are we able to dedicate time and priority to getting the legal terms squared away before your August break?”

“I think we’ve got the groundwork we need to wrap this up – with a bow – for when the kids head back to school.”

Voila, you’re mapping out your path to closure without sending out the message that you’re anxious/eager/desperate to close.

Your counterpart will only treat the negotiation as a priority if you do. Lead by example.


If you’ve been moving along swimmingly in your negotiation with bi-weekly calls or meetings, it’s time to up the frequency. No more biweekly calls – up the frequency. Out of sight = out of mind, and there will be another client or negotiation that will get top priority if you’re not following up regularly, so reserve some time with your counterpart once or twice a week, even if it’s a quick 15minute chat to review progress.


This is a tough one. But the most critical. You need to keep driving your side of the negotiation forward, even if you’d rather be cutting out early to sip a lemonade on the patio. Even if it’s a gorgeous day. Even if there’s still a ‘tomorrow’ in your negotiation schedule. Show that the negotiation is a priority to you – and your counterpart will be more likely to do the same. People take cues on priority from other’s actions. Canceling meetings, not returning calls, being slow to send over data or feedback…all of this means that you’re sending the low priority message loud and clear. Lead by example in getting – and keeping – the momentum going.

Breathing life back into a negotiation once it’s come to a standstill can be a challenge – and the longer you’ve been without progress or activity, the more resistance there will be to getting it back on track. As a Negotiation Coach, I double as an accountability partner – providing insight and guidance on your negotiation, but also following up to make sure actions are underway and there are signs of life. So, if your negotiation is in the summer doldrums, or it’s heading there, let me know how I can help!

Let me know how these steps work for you! What’s been your biggest negotiation revival success story? How did you keep the wheels turning?


This post was originally featured on Devon Smiley’s Negotiation Consulting blog