Negotiation Tactic #44 – No More Mr. Nice Guy

Summary: Taking back something that has already been agreed to.

This tactic is particularly effective when your counterpart is not being honest or is pushing you to the end of your rope with excessive demands. You take something back that you have already agreed to.


Lloyd and Nancy have been renting an apartment for three years. For about six months they have been feeling ill, but no one can figure out what their problem is. One day, while moving furniture, they find a wall covered with black mold. After doing some research, they discover that this mold could be what has been causing their health problems. On March 10, Lloyd and Nancy move out of the apartment and tell the landlord that they will not return until the moldy wall has been repaired. By March 20, the landlord has taken no action, so Lloyd and Nancy tell the landlord that they are moving out and requesting a refund of their deposit. When the landlord refuses, saying that Lloyd and Nancy have not provided thirty days’ notice, they hire an attorney, who demands the return of the couple’s deposit and a refund of the rent for March as well.


A fair person would probably have quickly repaired the moldy wall or returned the security deposit as requested, and therefore would not need any counter to this tactic. However, looking at the negotiation from the landlord’s point of view, he could try asking if the couple would be satisfied if he fulfilled the original request for a repair. Another option would be to show how he has been working on solving Lloyd and Nancy’s problem (collecting bids for the repair, etc.). Or he can agree to the lawyer’s demands but try to gain something in return, using the Trade-off Concession: “I will agree to cut a check for March’s rent and the security deposit if you will sign an agreement not to hold me liable for any future illnesses.”

Have you used or encountered this tactic in your negotiations? If so, how’d it go?

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