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Deploying Your Walk-away


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation activities > Deploying Your Walk-away

Hint at its existence | Show that you have it | Show you are prepared to use it | Give a last chance | Walk away | See also


When you have developed your walk-away alternative, the next question is how you will use it in practice.

The most important thing to remember is that walking away is a last-ditch action and the main purpose of having your walk-away is to help keep the other person negotiating. It also defends you, preventing them from using walk-away as a threat to gain concessions.

Hint at its existence

Very often, the other person will not know that you have a walk-away. They may well not have one themselves (many do not) and have not even thought about it. Just a hint, a small sniff, that you have an alternative to reaching agreement may well alarm them enough to consider your real offer.

A way to hint is to indicate that if agreement is not reached then this is not the end of the world for you. Thus if you say "I would rather reach agreement.", the word 'rather' indicates that there is an alternative. 'Rather than what?' is the thought that is implanted in their mind.

You can also show that you have at least been looking at alternatives. Thus you might say "You know, I've been looking around and this whole area is really nice." In saying so, you hint that you might have seen other places you like.

Show that you have it

If, after hinting that you have a walk-away, the other person still does not act in the way you want, you can make the walk-away more visible. Showing that you have actually put effort into developing an alternative indicates that you are serious and are not bluffing when you hinted at alternatives.

You can show that you have a walk-away alternative in a number of smaller revealing steps, each time giving the person the chance to collaborate more and accept your offer. Thus you could say a succession of things such as:

I was looking around at other houses and saw several I liked.

I have found another house that I particularly liked.

The people at the other house have reduced their price for me.

Show you are prepared to use it

If the other person still is not ready to negotiate collaboratively, even after you have shown that you can walk away from the table without losing too much, then you may need to show that you are prepared to do this.

First say that you are ready to use the alternative. Express regret but also show determination.

You know I don't have to do this, but if we can't agree then I'm going to look again at the other houses.

Ask if they really want this to happen. Remind them of the benefits of staying with you.

Do you want to give up the chance of agreeing this today? I have the funds approved and the surveys all done. All we need is to move a little and you'll have the deal sewn up.

Ask them what they will do if you walk away (it is surprising, even at this stage, how little people may have considered this fully.

Do you really want to go back to the beginning, trying to find someone else? Do you want someone else getting enthusiastic then backing out?

Give a last chance

Keep trying to get them to stay at the negotiation. Although your walkaway is good, don't forget that this deal is (presumably) better.

Send non-verbal signals that you are not going to give in.  Send termination signals. Start packing up. Put your papers together. Stand up.

Give verbal signals too.

Well, we've done our best. I guess it looks like we're going to go elsewhere.

Are you sure? This is the last chance before we go...

Walk away

Finally, when nothing else works, you may just have to walk away.

Do this with dignity and grace, never with anger or bad grace. Express sorrow that agreement was not reached and wish them well (they may yet call you back). Then leave.

Depending on the situation, you might like to wait a few days before actually deploying your walkaway, just in case they call you back. Set a deadline on this and don't extend it or you'll be waiting hopefully for too long.

See also

The walk-away alternative, Developing your walk-away, Identifying WEB Requirements


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