Negotiating and the Rock Bottom

It pays to know your bottom line

April 15, 2015

by Steven Lesser


Negotiators often have a position that is their rock bottom, their least acceptable deal.

Sometimes negotiators communicate this as a take-it-or-leave-it. Some negotiators use the take-it-or-leave-it even when they are not at their minimum deal. When used this way, the tactic borders on being unethical.

Take it or leave/lose it:

  • Conveys a supposed least acceptable deal
  • Forces acceptance of a stated or argued position without necessarily having a sound reasoning
  • Forces concessions that you may be unwilling to give (e.g. threat of being fired or quitting your job if a pay rise or promotion isn’t forthcoming)

Even when the negotiator is at the minimum acceptable deal, using the take-it-or-leave-it can damage the collaborative spirit of a negotiation. If the negotiator positions the take-it-or-leave-it as a power move designed to get the other party to concede his/her position, it will create a win/lose outcome.

Negotiators who are at rock bottom on one negotiating point should soften the take-it-or-leave-it and be open to making other concessions in other areas that may be less costly in order to create a win/win solution.

If you are faced with a negotiation in which the tactic is being used, evaluate whether the other party is truly at his/her minimum acceptable deal. Be patient, do not make concessions right away, and ask questions to understand the other party’s position.





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