Not all negotiations end with a happy agreement. Sometimes the gap is too great for the two parties to meet without one of the parties making a very significant sacrifice.

If the agreement on the table is truly unacceptable, you need to say so. Presuming that you have other alternatives, which is most often the case, the best thing to do is to let the other party know using very blunt language.

I recommend using words like, “While I am very interested making an agreement with you, I cannot go forward because of the following reasons (state your reasons or issues)”. Be very precise about what is wrong with the current agreement. Then say, “But, if you were willing to make these changes today (make a very specific proposal), I would agree to go forward.”

Next, pause and listen.

Depending on the gap, you may have just ended the negotiation, but you have done so in a respectful fashion and you have spoken honestly. This should give you a chance to do business again.

Alternatively, your honest but blunt offer might reignite the negotiation and help you construct an acceptable agreement.

Either way, you are better off.

John Bradley Jackson
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