Negotiating Lessons from Brexit – Five – “Make Me an Offer”


Recently Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, appeared to taunt the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, by indicating that the “Make me an offer” game being played by the UK showed a weak position.

It is interesting that the “Make me an offer” tactic was highlighted as it is the first tactic I have to cover on the first morning of the first day of my courses. Why? well because it is the most common tactic used by participants – from MBA students to highly experienced Directors of global corporates. But whilst it is not always weak, it is used by many to hide a number of possibilities.

  1. No Preparation – If you do not know what you want it makes it impossible to make the first move, so the initiative is handed to the other side of the table from the start. Setting up an outcome based on what the other side will let you have rather than what you want.
  2. Gambling Instinct – If I tell you what I want I limit what might be possible to win is the belief. The problem is that when I ask my students how often they get more than they planned to achieve, the weakness of the ploy is highlighted. Very very few gain more than they expect – and many curse themselves for handing over the initiative.The only market I work in regularly is the Venture Capital market, where an investor might play this game to find out just how much the owner of a business knows about the true value of his / her business. So many people in business do not know the real value of their business  and how it can be used.
  3. Hagglers – If the negotiation is going to be one dimensional – just about price for example –  hagglers try to get the other party to go first and then of course gain an advantage by forcing them  to make the first move from this opening position. The scale of the first move means that the party going second can always make smaller steps and control where the deal will be done.
  4. Slow Surrender – very similar to haggling but without any understanding of how haggling really works. This slow surrender approach means that the parties move towards each other by making excuses, splitting differences, meeting half way. This is not negotiating and neither party gets a good deal if they are having to surrender.



Published by sharpdealer

International Negotiating Specialist and Expert.

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