What Does Maybe REALLY Mean in Negotiations?

In our previous blogs, we discussed why yes rarely signals agreement and how you can use no to your advantage . The typical strategies for getting to yes rarely lead to a lasting one. And although getting a no is the path to discovery and consequently, successful negotiations, there’s a third alternative at the negotiation table: Maybe.

By Merriam-Webster’s definition, maybe means “possibly but not certainly”. In essence, it says, “I’m not agreeing to something but I’m also not discounting it.”

This ambiguous response is a lie. The person uttering it doesn’t want to make a decision. Perhaps they can’t or don’t want to be decisive. For others, the seller’s tenacity might wear down their resistance. But rather than just say “yes” or “no”, they opt for “maybe”. It seems like a softer, easier response.

However, being polite without ever intending to commit essentially is a lie. A more honest answer would be, “Thanks but I can’t make a decision until I have more information.”