Crunch Tip Sheet

What You'll Learn
  • The Crunch encourages the other party to move off their current position and make a concession without having received a counter-offer
  • Crunches can lighten the mood, but can also be overused and damage a relationship
  • Only use Crunches that match your style and are culturally appropriate for the parties involved
  • Never respond to a Crunch with a concession; instead, respond with a counter-crunch

The Tactical Negotiator's Probe

The Tactical Negotiator’s Probe, a “crunch,” is a common tactic used across the globe, and is a response to an offer that does not come in the form of a counter-offer. It is the simplest and most universal form of The Negotiator’s Probe (BNP 16). The Crunch is designed to encourage the other party to move off their current position and make a concession – and ultimately explore options and generate creativity. Crunches can be soft and gentle, moderate, or more aggressive. This is a sample list of the more popular Crunches from around the world.

Common Crunches

  • What flexibility do you have?
  • I need your help on this.
  • I just can’t get there.
  • There must be another way.
  • That’s not what I expected to hear.
  • What’s the sale price?
  • I thought you wanted to work together on this.
  • I hope you have more room.
  • You’re in the right church but the wrong pew.
  • That doesn’t make my socks go up-and-down.
  • You sounded so serious on the phone.
  • Repeating the other side’s offer with surprise.
  • We have a problem.
  • I’m a little disappointed with that.
  • You need to sharpen your pencil.
  • Budgets are tight.
  • That just won’t work for us.
  • We have never done that before.
  • Have them repeat their offer.
  • That’s a Big disappointment.
  • If I give you my w-h-o-l-e company how much more will I owe you?
  • We cannot afford that.
  • You have got to do better on that.
  • You need to try again.
  • That may be considered thievery.
  • You bring tears to my glass eye.
  • Can you take another look at your numbers?

Popular Non-Verbal Crunches

  • Dead silence.
  • Wince or flinch
  • Sucking air between your teeth.
  • Although rarely recommended, a walkout.
  • A confused and surprised look.
  • The old knife in the chest gesture.
  • Look down at your feet.
  • A dead stare with your mouth open.
  • Caucus, a huddle or time-out.

The Counter Probe/Crunch

  • What can you work with?
  • What can you get approved?
  • What do you need?
  • What will fit in your budget?
  • Give me a number.
  • What are you authorized to approve?
  • Give me something I can take back.
  • What will make your socks go up-and-down?

Regional Crunches

  • When crawfish whistle on the hill. (Russia)
  • Your toque is on too tight. (Canada)
  • Not yet.  (Indonesia)
  • There is no more juice in that lemon. (Europe)
  • When chickens have teeth! (France)
  • When frogs grow hair. (French)
  • That will be very difficult. (Asia)
  • I’ll do the best I can. (Asia)
  • You’re hurting me. (New York, US)
  • Talk to me. (New York, US)
  • Yes, God willing. (Middle East)
  • That pig won’t fly. (South US)
  • That dog won’t hunt. (South US)
  • Momem Tie (“No problem”, Cantonese)
  • Dreamin’ (Australia)

  • Never respond to a Crunch with a concession – otherwise it is considered a unilateral, or free, concession.  Instead, challenge all Crunches with an equally assertive or greater Crunch.

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