DEFINITION of 'Brinkmanship'

A negotiating technique in which one party aggressively pursues a set of terms ostensibly to the point at which the other party in the negotiation must either agree or halt negotiations. Brinkmanship is so named because one party pushes the other to the "brink" or edge of what that party is willing to accommodate. As a sales strategy, brinkmanship is most often used with new customers and requires the salesman to identify and attack the customer's "pain points".

BREAKING DOWN 'Brinkmanship'

Companies pursuing a brinkmanship approach to negotiating may be bluffing, as they would be willing to accept terms more agreeable to the other party. It is a risky approach in that it may alienate the other party and cause a failure in negotiations in which no party does business. The rewards are potentially greater than a more amiable negotiation, since the more aggressive is more likely to gain better terms if the process is successful.