Negotiation Tactic #69 – We’ve Never Done That Before

Summary: Citing lack of precedent as a reason for turning down a deal point.

When you cite a precedent, you use something that has happened in the past to justify a current request, position, or concession. Lawyers often cite precedents, using actual court cases to support their positions. Reversing this tactic by saying, “There is no precedent for that,” or “We’ve Never Done That Before” in reference to a deal point can be very effective.


A hotel guest asks to extend his check-out until 2:00 PM. The guest services person denies the request, saying, “I am sorry for any inconvenience, but we never extend checkouts past noon.”


The guest could respond by Asking a Closed-Ended Question, such as, “How much would it cost to stay an additional two hours?” Or he could counter with a precedent by pointing out, “Every OTHER time I have stayed with this hotel chain, I have been allowed a 2:00 PM check-out when I requested it.” As a last resort, he could utilize the tactic of the Higher Authority, going over the guest services person’s head and asking to speak to the manager.

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

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