How To Defend Against A “Take It Or Leave It” Position

by drjim on August 28, 2015

Every negotiator needs protection from the "take it or leave it" position

Every negotiator needs protection from the “take it or leave it” position
Image Credit: Jens Cramer

Negotiating is tough work. We are not always able to reach a point in the negotiation where both sides of the table are able to agree on a deal no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques we use. In fact, it is very likely that at some point in the negotiations one side of the table will take a look at the deal that is currently before them and decide that that is the best deal that they are willing to offer. When this happens, they may very well say “take it or leave it”. When this happens, what are you to do?

Moving On After “Take It Or Leave It”

If you are engaged in a negotiation that means a lot to you, you really need to walk away with some sort of deal, and the other side says “take it or leave it”, then you have a real problem on your hands. For whatever reason, the other side has reached their breaking point. They don’t believe that they will be able to reach a better deal with you than the last one that they have proposed.

When you hear this phrase, you do still have a number of different options available to you. Of course, the simplest thing to do is to get up and walk away. This negotiation just didn’t work out for you. However, a much better approach is to step back from the negotiations for just a moment. What you are going to want to do is to take a look at the “big picture”. By understanding the different pieces that make up the deal that you are trying to reach, you just might be able to save this negotiation.

What you are going to want to do now is to change the parameters of the negotiation. What you need to do is to tell the other side that you may be willing to agree to what they are asking for. However, you are going to need for them to become flexible on some other component of the negotiation. If they want a higher price, then tell them that you may be willing to pay the higher price, but they are going to have to do something that will lower your overall cost of obtaining the product.

How To Restart A Stalled Negotiation

Let’s face it, when the other sides says “take it or leave it”, that can pretty much kill a negotiation. Just because a negotiation has ground to a halt because of what the other side has said does not mean that all is lost. What’s going to have to happen is that you are going to have to get things restarted.

The secret to starting up a stopped negotiation is that once again, you’re going to have to change the parameters of the negotiation. In this case, you are going to have to be the one who picks up the phone or goes and knocks on the door of the other party and says “I might be able to agree to what your final offer was.”

It’s important to note that you are not giving in! Instead what you are trying to do is to find a different way to get to the deal that you want. What you’ll want to do is to get the other side to give up a number of items in order to allow you to meet whatever their main request was. If they are willing to give up enough that it makes meeting their primary demands acceptable to you, then go ahead and do it.

What All Of This Means For You

The goal of any principled negotiation is to reach a deal with the other side of the table that both you can live with. This is not always possible to do. If the other side says “take it or leave it” then they are communicating that they are done negotiating. You are going to have to get creative if you want to save this negotiation.

Specifically, what you are going to want to do is to make sure that you understand the big picture that the negotiation fits into. In order to keep the negotiations moving forward, you are going to have to change its parameters. You can do this by agreeing to what they are asking for, but attempting to change everything else about the negotiation. This technique can also be used to restart a stalled negotiation.

As negotiators we always need to be moving forward. When we encounter a situation where the other side has said “take it or leave it” our ability to reach a deal with them is at risk. Use the techniques that we’ve discussed to change the parameters of your negotiation when this occurs. You just might be surprised by how things turn out…!

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

Question For You: Should you try to save a negotiation if the other side says “take it or leave it”?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In this world in which we all live, it turns out that pretty much nothing is ever set in stone. In a negotiation, we tend to forget this basic fact. We work with the other side to find agreement on the individual issues that make up that which is being negotiated. Once an agreement on an issue has been reached, both of us consider it to be settled and we move on. However, sometimes we change our mind and that’s when things can get very, very tricky…

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