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The Recess / Walk-Out Negotiation Tactic

In professional real estate negotiations, the recess or walk out negotiation tactic is a threat to break off the negotiations and imply an end to all discussions. When the walk-out negotiation tactic is employed, one party leaves the room in protest of the terms or concessions being discussed. The insinuation is that the point being debated is so off target, so offensive, that it will not be discussed now or ever. The party leaving hopes to be called back, thereby shifting the balance of power to their side of the table by forcing an abrupt, significant concession in order to keep the deal on the table.

The recess negotiation tactic is almost always a bluff, and can backfire on the party using it. This tactic signals a desperate attempt to gain leverage in the face of a stalled negotiation. If the opposition does not call them back, there is no feasible way to restart the negotiation without admitting the bluff and the balance of power immediately shifts to the other side of the table. You may try to return in a “Columbo” fashion, meaning, “Oh, by the way, there is just this one more thing ….” But often that attempt falls flat and you would have to give the abrupt, significant concession that you were hoping to gain from the other party.

Unless you have a good enough second alternative or truly do not care about losing the deal on the table, the walk-out negotiation tactic is just too costly. In the desperate attempt to gain power, you could end up losing more power than you could have gained.

The most effective counter to the walk-out negotiation tactic in real estate negotiation is to let them go. You could issue a minor threat as they walk out or try a “Columbo” yourself, but the emotions are often too piqued for that to be effective. Wait to see if the other party comes back, because if they do it will probably be on their knees. If you cannot afford to just let them go, then wait a day or so and make a phone call similar to, “A new idea has occurred to me ….” If a little time has passed, this new idea can be received without either side of the table losing face.