In any kind of negotiation, your ability to walk away is your strongest tool. (Yep.)

By Leo Babuta

mnmlistbe able to walk away

In any kind of negotiation, your ability to walk away is your strongest tool.

Those who can walk away from the negotiation — legitimately walk away, not just make a show of it — are in the strongest position. Those who are convinced they need to make the deal are in the weakest position.

This is true of negotiating when you’re buying a car, closing the sale of your new home, haggling in a foreign flea market, or trying to get a raise.

It’s also true of anything in life.

Know that there’s almost nothing you can’t walk away from.

If you are convinced you need a nice house with a walk-in closet and hardwood floors and a huge kitchen, you now have a weakness. You will give away precious life hours and savings to get it. Someone else who knows that those things aren’t absolutely necessary can walk away, and not need to spend so much money (and thus work hours) on that kind of house.

If you are convinced that you need Stabucks grande lattes every day, or an iPhone or iPad, or an SUV or Cooper Mini or BMW … you are in the weak position, because you can’t give it up. Someone else might know that those aren’t essential to happiness, and can walk away.

If you know that the man who is treating you badly (but who you just know will change someday, because, you know, he loves you) isn’t necessary for you to be happy, you can walk away. If you know that you can be happy alone, and that you need no one to make you happy, you can walk away.

If you know that there’s almost nothing you can’t walk away from, you can save yourself tons of money. Years of time. Mountains of headaches and heartaches. Boatloads of suffering.

You don’t need to walk away from everything, but you should know that you can. And when the cost of the deal is too great, too dear … walk away.


9 thoughts on “In any kind of negotiation, your ability to walk away is your strongest tool. (Yep.)

      • I lead and teach interest based negotiating. I always have to be prepared to walk away. I have found that the gentle version of this in life is to lovingly walk away, knowing that the values and principles are reflections of my consciousness. It is about vibrational harmony. But that is a softening, and a surrendering in a way, to knowing everything is perfect just as it is.

      • Wonderful comments! I said something related to @hemmingplay regarding reading the energy of the room. Too often people get wrapped up in their own heads to even attend to others around them, let alone quietly observe and read them. The noise is perpetual and, unfortunately for them, they are afraid to let it go…surrender, as you say. [I do so love that part! Surrendering is essential lest stagnation and delusion set in.]

        Do what thou wilt. That is all there is. We build ourselves to resist what should be a free and natural inclination out of a desire to control.

        Dude, seriously. I have enough on my plate just “controlling” my schedule and my workflow. Therefore, I have zero desire to control anyone else. I’m happily incompetent that way. 🙂

  1. I’ve been involved in some union negotiation situations. And, well, I’ve been married a loooong time. So here goes…. It is as you say, vital to be able to walk away. It’s just as useful to give a convincing impression of walking away, to retain some tactical flexibility if conditions on the battlefie… I mean, across the negotiating table…change.

    You just have to know… if this were poker, what’s your ‘tell’?

    • Ahhh yes. My background in HR and Labor have taught me much about these sorts of things. I enjoy reading the energy of the room and observing the millions of things people willingly (and unknowingly) give away. (One of the benefits of being a hypervigilant kid who always had to read every room to know whether she was going to get caught in the middle of something and made to pay a bill that wasn’t hers.)

      Win-win is a myth, a mirage, an albatross. Humans don’t work that way and why on earth that stuff is perpetuated is beyond me. Negotiation is all about understanding the other parties involved and knowing the difference between a position and a perception. I don’t bluff and I don’t posture. It’s not my style and never has been. If I assert my position, one can count on that being true. I’m a WYSIWYG.

  2. Love this. I’ll remember it… Although I did read ‘boatloads’ of suffering as ‘buttloads’ of suffering at first. Lol.

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