A Nice Way For A Negotiator To Say “Take It Or Leave It”

You need to be able to communicate that you can go no further

You need to be able to communicate that you can go no further
Image Credit: bzhmatth

I sure do like negotiating! Man, I could negotiate all day long using all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that I’ve learned.. However, as you are well aware, in every negotiation that we participate in, there comes a time when we are done. We’ve given in as much as we are willing to do. Just exactly what should we do now to communicate to the other side of the table that we’re done?

That’s All I Can Do

When you’ve decided that it’s time to tell the other side of the table that you are all done negotiating with them, you’ve got a number of different ways that you can go about doing this. One of the most common is the “take it or leave it approach”. This is when you inform the other side that you are through talking with them. If they won’t say “yes” to the deal that is currently on the table then you’re done and you are going home.

The “take it or leave it” approach is a bit harsh. A much better way to go about doing the same thing is to use the “that’s all I can do” approach. The thing that you don’t want to do here is to create animosity with the other side. What you want to communicate is that you are not ending the negotiations. Rather, you are trying to tell them that this is the place where you have to stop.

What you are going to want to do is to draw line in the current negotiations. However, you are going to want to go about doing it in a nice way. By telling the other side “that’s all that I can do”, you are being almost apologetic about having to do this. With a little bit of luck, you’ll make the other side feel guilty about not having the ability to complete this deal with you.


As negotiators we realize that that every tactic that we learn could be used against us someday. What this means is that we need to keep our eyes open for this tactic to be used by the other side of the table and if they do, then we need to be ready with an effective countermeasure.

The very first thing that you’ll want to do if someone uses the “that’s all I can do” tactic on you is to verify the limitations that they are talking about. Just because they say that this is all that they can do does not mean that it is so. What you are going to want to do is to ask some questions that are pointed. The purpose of this will be to challenge his or her statement that they can’t do any more.

If the other side is hesitant to reveal why they can’t do any more, feel free to become angry and state that you are starting to feel as though you’ve been wasting your time negotiating with them. As you push the other side more and more, what you may end up discovering is just exactly who on the other side is ultimately responsible for making the decisions regarding this negotiation.

What All Of This Means For You

In every principled negotiation that we are involved in, there comes a time when we have reached the limit of what we are willing to do. We are going to be unwilling to make any more concessions to the other side. When we reach this point, we need to be able to clearly communicate it to the other side.

The best way to go about doing this in a polite way is to simple tell them “that’s all that I can do”. Using this method allows you to keep the negotiations going. If the other side uses this tactic on you, you can counter by asking them to explain why they can’t do any more. This may lead you to a better understanding of who is really making the decisions on the other side.

In negotiating, sometimes it’s the simplest tactics that turn out to be the most powerful. Using this way to communicate to the other side of the table that you are done negotiating can be a very effective technique. Make sure that you use it carefully so that the other side fully understands what you are saying.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: What do you think would be the best counter if the other side started asking you why you couldn’t go on?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So there is a very interesting question that all too often I think that we negotiators just don’t take the time to answer: when is a negotiation over? Your gut reaction is probably to say when the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have been put away and the deal has been signed by both sides of the table. However, it turns out that although that’s an important stage, when that occurs the negotiations are by no means over yet.



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Over the last 25 years, Dr. Anderson has transformed failing negotiators worldwide. Dr. Anderson will turn these missed opportunities into successful deals.


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