Blog Abstract: How to Respond to “Take It or Leave It”

From time to time, team members will share their views stimulated by content from an industry thought leader. Here, our CEO, Lisa Maier, discusses the recent Harvard Business Review article, “How to Respond to “Take It or Leave It”,” by Anyi Ma , Yu Yang and Krishna Savani.

This is a great article because we’ve all been in negotiations that at some point include a comment such as, “this is all I can do,” and implied or stated “take it or leave it.” These ultimatums are used because they generally work, and that is great if you are on the dealing side, but not so great if you are on the receiving side of the table. So what are your alternatives when you encounter such a situation? That is what this article is all about.

What is interesting is that it is yet another ‘mindset’ situation: in this case, the authors suggest you adopt a ‘choice mindset.’ The recommendation is to focus your attention on all the choices you and your negotiation partner have in the negotiation, and to assume foundationally that there are always options to choose from no matter what situation you are in. This mindset enables will allow you to persist the negotiations longer than people without that mindset.

The article also summarizes findings from previous studies and indicates this approach will improve outcomes in both “distributive negotiations” in which one party’s gain is the other’s loss, as well as in “integrative negotiations” where gains can be increased on both sides by making tradeoffs for competing priorities. The authors have also shown through experiments that this approach can improve outcomes in many personal and professional situations.

So how do you activate a choice mindset? Here are some ideas:

  • Create a list of all choices you believe you and your counterpart possess.
  • Think broadly about choice options. For instance, in salary negotiations, not just pay, but also other benefits that have value.
  • Believe that there are options that are waiting to be discovered instead of caving in when you receive an ultimatum.

Good luck on your choice mindset development and your improved negotiation outcomes!


Author: Lisa Maier

Lisa Maier is the CEO of DirectiveGroup, and brings great passion and over a decade of experience in the online marketing space. Her background includes a undergraduate degrees in Economics and Sociology, a Wharton MBA degree in Information Strategies & Economics, top tier technology strategy consulting and several years helping small technology companies traverse the chasm from good products to nationally scaled businesses, particularly making use of online marketing and media programs.