Negotiation Tactic #78 – The Dead Fish

Summary: Raising an unreasonable deal point to distract a counterpart and get her to make a concession on another deal point.

You place a deal point on the bargaining table that you don’t expect to achieve and don’t particularly care about, knowing that it will be about as acceptable to your counterpart as the smell of a dead fish. When your counterpart makes a fuss, you offer to give up the deal point, but you make it sound like a big concession on your part so you can ask for something in return.


Consuela is buying a used car from Josh. Josh is asking $10,000. Consuela wants to pay less, so she lays The Dead Fish on the table, asking Josh to purchase new tires. When Josh balks at the suggestion, she agrees to drop the new tires demand, but only if he lowers his price by $400.


Josh could simply insist that the price is not negotiable. Or he could use Apparent Withdrawal, These Boots Are Made for Walking, or the Trade-Off Concession.

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

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