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Dealing With Unreasonable Demands

Ben Byth

‘That’s ridiculous!’ / ‘So is what you’re asking!’


You don’t have to spend long walking around the office or talking with customers/suppliers before someone makes a crazy demand of you. And why wouldn’t people make crazy demands of you… incredibly though, people typically respond by giving them some of what they have asked for (reinforcing the bad behavior).


Some tips for dealing with crazy demands:


1. Stop giving in to unreasonable demands

The unfortunate reality is that we bring many of these unreasonable demands on ourselves. We put targets on our backs by reinforcing bad behavior and giving in. If they make a demand for a discount, and you give them some - they just learned that making demands works.

Unfortunately, generosity can breed greed rather than gratitude.

2. Dismantle the demand

If you have ever tried telling someone they are making ridiculous demands, I’m guessing you were met with some form of argument whereby they attempted to justify how their demands were actually quite reasonable. Rather than making accusations, try asking probing questions designed to coach them to the conclusion their demand is unreasonable. For example:

  • How much time do you think that would take to do?
  • Are you aware of time that I’m being inefficient with which could be repurposed?
  • Are you saying you would like me to put other projects on hold?

3. Put a price on the demand

If they are still reluctant to take the demand off the table after coaching questions - don’t say yes, don’t say no, and don’t give them half of what they wanted. The negotiating response is to tell them under what circumstances they could have all of their demand. A salesperson I was working with executed this beautifully when asked for a crazy discount during a negotiation.

Salesperson:      ‘If you hand me the keys to your Porsche, I’ll give you the discount you asked for’.

Client:                That is ridiculous

Salesperson:      ‘So is what you’re asking, let’s move on’.


Putting an unreasonable price on an unreasonable demand blocks the proposal. There is a high likelihood however that this could ignite an argument, so be ready with a reasonable proposal that meets everyone’s needs (making a proposal will get you back out of the argument).


Happy Negotiating,


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