Negotiating walk away power

India, June 2011. It was my day off in-between my trainings and I was sightseeing in New Delhi. My host, Sainesh and I, found a cavernous underground market on my hunt for some souvenirs for the family. We wanted to get this done quickly so we could both enjoy lunch.

Shop after shop selling a diversity of clothes, products, electronics, souvenirs. I was looking for a Sari for my daughter and some IPL shirts for my two sons. IPL stands for Indian Premier League which is the most popular sport in the country attracting millions of supporters. Its 20:20 cricket by the way and exhilerating to watch.

I found a store for the sari and the man quoted me 1,000 rupees, about £10. I didn’t like it so tuned away politely.  He shouted 800 rupees, and as I made it to the door, 500 rupees, 300 rupees.  I didn’t want it and I respectfully made that clear, but I did wonder how low he would go as I exercised my right to walk away.  This is known in negotiation circles as Walk Away Power.

The next store I found my IPL shirts and looked at the Deccan Chargers and the Mumbai Indians shirts. I thought Euan would fit the Mumbai shirt and the Deccan shirt was slightly bigger for my eldest son. They’ll love them. This was a perfect solution to the need for souvenirs.

How much Sir?” I asked. “For the two shirts, 1,000 rupees”.

I thought, let me do walk away power and see what he’ll do. I fully expected to get the price down but as I walked to the door, nothing, I hesitated, stopped and went back to him.  The clever man knew this and deliberately kept quiet, he knew I’d come back.  The reason?  I wasn’t genuine in my walk away power. You see, I’d already chosen the shirts, matched them to my sons and measured them as well in front of the shop owner. I’d crossed the line and needed to buy the shirts. I didn’t have the power to walk away and he knew it.

1,000 rupees later, I’d learned my lesson. If using walk away power, never cross the line, as you won’t have the authenticity.

Spending £10 on your two sons is not a lot of money, so it was a cheap lesson for me. The shop owner was so gracious he even posed for a photograph. What a fabulous cheeky smile.