Negotiation Tip: Walking Away From a Negotiation is Hard to Do


Last week I discussed alternatives and why they were important to have in a negotiation.  Having options and being able to walk away from a negotiation is one of the primary reasons.  Not feeling like it is this deal or nothing gives you more flexibility in your negotiation.  However it is hard to do because you have invested your time and effort in the current negotiation.  

Here are two points to remember if you are considering walking.  First, the party who has the most options has the most power.  A corollary to this is the party who is invested in the deal the most is the weaker party. Which are you, most invested, but no options; one of the two (better); or option loaded and least invested (best)?  If your situation is better or best, you have more flexibility top consider walking.  If you decide it is an option these tips will help you walk away from a negotiation cleanly.

The most important thing is that you never want to “just up and leave”.  While it may be satisfying to yell at the other party, gather up your belongings, and storm out the door; you need to think of the consequences when you do this.  Do you have or want an ongoing relationship with this person? What are your alternatives? Are you satisfying your ego or is walking out part of your strategy?  Abruptly ending a negotiation carrys a far different message thean one where the other side has had adequate warning.

Gradual withdrawal is a better way.  That is, you can send signals to the other party that you are dissatisfied with the way negotiations are going.  Sending a warning shot across their bow lets them know their behavior is unacceptable.  For instance, is the other person domineering, sarcastic or gamey?  If so, you might try anti-bullying tactics with this individual.  If the person persists, tell them that if they continue with this behavior, you will halt negotiations.  Yes, this is a challenge to them, but if delivered in a firm way you can make your point.  If the person persists, warn them again and then leave.  Call it a cooling off time or a break or an end depending on whether you want to continue the negotiation.  

Stuck on a negotiation point that is a deal breaker?  Let them know.  Ask how they can help resolve the issue.  If, after exploring ways to resolve it doesn’t work, then walk.  Remember the goal is to get a satisfactory deal, not to leave the table.

Ending a negotiation is hard to do.  These tips on how to walk away from a negotiation will make it easier.

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  1. Great tips Bill. I know too many people who burn bridges and later on wish they had not.

  2. Bill, would you please supply more information about the anti-bullying tactics in one of your next blog posts? I would like to learn how to do this and best practices. Thank you for the excellent post.

  3. Great advice, Bil. As much as you may like to flip the table over and storm out of the room, that’s probably not the best approach.;-) Always better to keep the negotiation process professional.

  4. Heidi Alexandra says:

    Great reading Bill. I think the clincher for me is “The most important thing is that you never want to “just up and leave”.

  5. The phrase “The best deal I ever did was the one I walked away from” comes to mind. I think Mr. Trump said that. And regardless of what you think of him, he makes a great point. If it doesn’t feel right, walk away. It will save you so much time and hassle.

    • Part of your preparation is knowing what your walk aay point is. It is not always money but the “feel of the deal”.