… eat a Shit Sandwich
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
When Someone Holds a Gun to Your Head…
…eat a shit sandwich.
You are often told that when someone holds a gun to your head in business, you should always assume the gun isn’t loaded. This popular wisdom correctly assumes that the gun holder has only two options if you refuse to capitulate: They can pull the trigger or they can give in to your demands.
Usually this situation occurs between buyer and seller – where the buyer is the one holding the gun. You are also likely to experience gun pointing when negotiating virtually any agreement with someone who is a poor negotiator. Regardless of the situation, there are two hard and fast rules you should know before you decide to be the one holding the gun:
- Never point a gun at someone unless you are fully prepared to shoot; and
- If you forget the first rule, always expect your bluff to be called.
When someone holds a gun to my head, I eat a shit sandwich, and then assume the gun is not loaded.
The gun is never loaded.
The negotiating wisdom that dictates you should always act like a gun to your head is not loaded is correct; but only half right. When negotiating anything in business where the other party puts a gun to your head, you need to assume the gun is not loaded; but at the same time, you need to stay focused on your overall goal (this is where eating a shit sandwich comes in).
The shit sandwich is what you must eat if you are truly focused on the goal of the proposed agreement. Gun or no gun, there was a reason you began negotiating. Now the other party has put a proverbial gun to your head, you need to remember your goal.
What was it? To make a deal that makes money for you? Well, that’s the shit sandwich you have to eat. Are they being unreasonable and removing all your profit?
Walk away, the gun isn’t loaded.
There is a point when your best negotiating tactic is to walk away; and when someone is making an unreasonable demand that has just become part of a “take it or leave it” offer, then leave it. The gun isn’t loaded.