The Negotiator Magazine

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Let's say there are bribes suggested as a part of the deal or other unethical behaviors, perhaps even personal attacks on your character or that of your company. Tricks, unethical shenanigans, personal assaults are not the stuff that most of us would want in a business relationship. Time to walk.

Take it or leave it positions form another decision point. You try every reasonable approach and find the other party will not budge on anything. This is not a negotiation, it is a signing ceremony. If you are not going to agree to the demand, it's time to walk.

You find that the other party is incapable of delivering on the agreement despite their intentions and there is no point in continuing to search for a dream. All this said, they plow on trying to make the impossible true. Time to walk.

The other party wishes to examine every nit and gnat, is oblivious to time and is not really serious about making agreement. Or, even worse, the other party admits they do not have the authority to make an agreement. You are negotiating with a token representative. Do you continue? If you can not escape the "blocker" and talk to someone with authority, it is time to walk away.

Sometimes walk-outs are ploys to impress others in the negotiator's organization, to draw attention to the negotiation to the public or to bring others into the negotiation as allies, to force a change in negotiators or to escalate the situation to higher management.

The reasons behind walk-outs are myriad and we have only touched the surface. I have been in negotiations in which walk-outs resulted in restarting effective and fruitful dialogue and saved the day. I have also seen the other side.

Walking out should never be done out of emotion. It should be a rare, calculated and deliberate action. If you are planning to walk away, of course, its time to dust off and reevaluate the best alternative to this negotiated agreement (BATNA).

Best wishes,
John Baker

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December 2004