Maybe the most aggressive tactic for a negotiator to take is to say “take it or leave it”; this stance is cocky, unequivocal, and mean. Aggressive negotiators use this tactic because weaker negotiators give in and it works. Yet, many times it is just a bluff.

This tactic sends a strong signal that the aggressive party has a strong BATNA (i.e. other options if this agreement does not come together). At least that is what they want you to believe. They will say things like, “This is the best I can do. You can take it or leave it”. Frequently, they will also have a short deadline for you to respond, which is yet another aggressive tactic. They will say, “I need your answer by 5 PM today”.

If the other party does have other alternatives, then the negotiation may actually be over, unless you want to play their game. It is quite possible that they already agreed to deal with another party; this is just one last jab to see if you can meet the price. They feel they have nothing to lose; they don’t care about the relationship with you. Maybe you will meet or even beat the demanded price. What could be better?

You can fight this dirty trick by saying, “OK, if we meet your price today, can you sign the agreement now?” You need to emphasize the word now; say it like you mean it. By responding like this, you can stop the bargaining from escalating more. This is important because the other party is a “bully” and may continue to escalate the demands unless you stop them. Also, by responding with urgency you may call their bluff.

Maybe a better response would be to trade a concession for some other benefit for you. You can say, “If I agree to your terms, we need to extend the contract period by another year”. Pause and let the other party respond. Note that you are acknowledging the other party’s offer, but not agreeing to the take or leave scenario. Instead, you are offering a hypothetical response, which bargains for a concession to make the deal better for you. By doing this you countered the other party’s proposal, which was represented to last and final.

Stay cool in this situation. The key is to out-think them.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
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