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How to Get The Upper Hand In Any "Take It Or Leave It" Offer

By |October 03, 2016


A “take it or leave it offer” signals a great deal of insecurity on the part of the other side.  If they weren’t afraid to negotiate, they would.  They’re either afraid they might give in too much, or they’re under some external pressure that’s got them spooked. This gives you leverage.Soak up time and you get more leverage.

And though the other side may not see it overtly, any negotiation offer is a test of you as both an adversary and a potential business partner.

The dominating emotion in nearly all business negotiations is fear.  It shows itself in many different forms: “concern” being the most common disguise – yet what is concern really? Fear.

Your job is to gently to cast yourself as being respectful, not a pushover and capable of looking out for the long term interests of both sides. These things increase your value long-term, which is your real overall goal. Here are 4 powerful tools for handling "take it or leave it" offers. 


1 – The “No-oriented” opener.

Ask: “Is it disrespectful if I ask to clarify a few points?” This is a form of what I refer to as a “no-oriented” question. People are much more comfortable saying the word “no” then they are saying “yes”. No is protection and yes is commitment.

You’ll be stunned at what people are willing to say “no” to.  

If the answer to this question is “yes”, then you just learned a great deal about your potential future partner, which makes you smarter. Since “yes” is most often a trap to people are often very leery of saying it.  Use this to your advantage.


2 – Mirror, mirror.

Select which points you want to test for movement and simply mirror them.  The definition of a “mirror” (from the methodology in my book "Never Split The Difference") is repeating a selected 1-3 words, or the last 1-3 words of what someone has said.

A brilliant client of ours (and great friend) always mirrors each of the other side’s positions.  Any expansion of the points indicates flexibility.  

It’s time to get unstuck! Here are five tactics for negotiating with difficult  people. Download here  >>

3 – The gentle, deferential label.

The next thing you want to do is use a label: “It sounds like there’s no movement on any of these points?”  Tone of voice is critical.  Deferential. Gentle.  This is not an accusation.

Then go silent and wait for them to answer. It’s critical you let them respond. The label acts as a very gentle form of a question that doesn’t make people feel questioned. You want to keep their comfort level high here so they are happy to continue to talk.

Then to make sure that you’ve thoroughly clarified their response use a mirror. This is a great tool to get someone to expand on what they’ve just articulated while at the same time feeling completely in control. They don’t feel challenged.


4 – The Close: Generosity. (Another label.)

Finally, if all else fails, you want to use the label “You’ve been very generous. It looks like there’s nothing more here you can do.” If there’s anything left at all that they can do, here’s is where they will look to find it for you.

Generosity is a trait people love to be.  Even when they “seem” is the opposite.  Using this label brings it out in them.  It’s also a great way to finish the interaction as the only thing more important than how an interaction begins is how it ends.

There’s a saying you can live by – “Never be mean to someone who can hurt you by doing nothing”. It’s pretty much a universal truth that everyone you deal with can probably hurt you in some fashion by inaction. If you can accept that as true, then the opposite is also true, pretty much everyone you deal with can also help you, even in some small way, if they feel like it.

Your overall goal in the interaction is to be respectful, deferential, and pleasant to deal with so that when the final decision comes as to what small thing, if anything, they can do to help you, they will do it.

To sum up:

  1. The “No-oriented” opener.
  2. Mirror, mirror.
  3. The gentle, deferential label.
  4. The Close: Generosity. (Another label.)

Make it rain!

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