Perhaps the best known negotiation tactic of all is to threaten simply to walk away — but the drawbacks for the deal and your reputation can be massive. Fortunately, there is a solution that keeps much of the tactic’s value in place.
You’ve likely encountered this tactic before, in any number of basic variations; it can come in the form of a statement (“$500 is my final offer”), a subtle facial expression or finality in the tone of the voice, or even a literal walk-away from a street market vendor.
Whatever the exact implementation, the basic premise is simple and easy to understand. One party judges that the other will take a deal and decides to force their hand, by implicitly or directly threatening to walk away from the negotiation entirely unless a deal (their deal) is settled right there and then.
If the other party caves, great — they won!
But the risks of this strategy are just as obvious. The other party might not cave, after all, and what then? You’ve either committed to walking away, or you stay in the negotiation with a total lack of credibility, unlikely to have any future ‘red lines’ taken seriously. And even if you do get the deal you want, hardball tactics like these can damage your reputation over time, losing you value in the long run.
Luckily, there is a very simple way to use essentially the same idea… but usually with even greater success, and far less risk. All you have to do is this: be nice about it.
It doesn’t take much. If you show that you like and respect the person you’re dealing with, you understand their needs, and you earnestly want to find a deal that works for both of you… you’re almost certain to maintain their respect when you voice your needs as well.
Here’s an example script to adapt for your own purposes:
“John, I understand that you want $_____ for this to be a profitable deal for you. That’s a fair ask. But that offer is a little out of my price range right now, and I don’t think I could accept it. Are you sure there isn’t some intermediate price we could agree on that also works for you? I’d really prefer to deal with you if possible.”
(This also works great for non-monetary terms and negotiations — it’s not always about price!)