How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Developing Your Walk-away
What happens if you do not reach agreement in a negotiation? The answer is that both parties leave the table with nothing. What happens next depends on what you have ready in your pocket. The walk-away alternative can prove to be one of your most powerful tools. But you have to have it ready -- you have no time to do this in the negotiation.
When you are going to be negotiating for something, whether it is a night out or a house, first think about the possibility of being unsuccessful in the negotiation. Put yourself into the negotiating situation and imagine reaching an impasse and subsequently either you or the other person decides that agreement will not be reached and terminates the discussion.
This in itself is a good exercise, as it readies you emotionally for the possibility of not reaching a satisfactory conclusion. It also gives you a sense of walking away from the negotiation and stimulation to think about what would happen next.
The next step is to find possible things that you could do if you the negotiation is unsuccessful. Start by being creative -- look further afield and contemplate all sorts of possibilities.
For example, if you are negotiating a house, your options range from not moving to giving up your job and going to live somewhere else (although buying another house nearby is probably your first alternative).
Choose a limited set of alternatives that you would be prepared to contemplate. Explore these further, for example by discussing them with your constituency. For example, if you are considering buying a house further afield, you might ask your family if they are prepared to live elsewhere.
In doing this, reduce the list to a realistic few alternatives, typically one to three, that you will have time and other resources to develop.
Now spend time on your walk-away alternative(s), developing them to the state where you could implement them at the drop of a hat. If you are buying a house and considering living elsewhere, then not only should you identify areas you would live, but also take actions such as investigating schools, visiting houses for sale and even getting an offer accepted.
Now, if you do not succeed in the negotiation, you can happily walk away to something that, although maybe not as perfect as the desired outcome, is something that is perfectly acceptable.