This is very important advice, and I've applied it to car purchases, condo lease agreements, cable and phone contracts, you name it.
It's about leverage. If you have alternatives, and what the person on the other side of the table offers doesn't fit your needs, take your business elsewhere. You have to be prepared to leave or say no.
On the other hand, if you can't say no, then you don't have any leverage.
The key is the perception of the other party, not the actual reality of whether you can say no or not.
Robert Ringer's amazing (and must read) book, "Winning Through Intimidation." Talks about how he manufactured the perception of being able to walk away, and why image and perception are more important than actual circumstances.
It's of course much simpler to play the part of being able to say no, when you can actually walk away...but you can hack your own perception to believe you can walk away even if you can't, and pull it off... or you can be a good actor and take some risks...
Either way... The premise is true...but it's more about the story you are selling than anything else.
My favorite quote from the book is...
"I didn't mean to cut off your hands, but I had no choice when you reached for my chips."
This is his argument for DEMANDING a contract for every business deal, especially with friends or people you trust. (I admit I am not great at this...)
He opens with a theory that most successful people who claim "hard work and a positive attitude" drive success are lying. They are either too embarrassed to admit how easy it was for them...or they can't see the forest from the trees and really have no idea why they are successful.
He has a few key points that really stand out for me...
"The results you get from a negotiation are inversely proportionate to how intimidated you are."
"With every deal...The key is to hope for a good result, but expect a negative one. (otherwise you will get discouraged way too quickly and give up.)
Image is everything...
"It’s Not What You Say Or Do That Counts, But What Your Posture Is When You Say Or Do it."
I wrote a few blog posts over the years about his book...
Edit: I have a few extra copies. Would be happy to mail one to the first two people who ask. Just find my email on my profile and email me.
Do you have a link to amazon? I'm willing to buy the book and give you a little profit while doing so.
http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Through-Intimidation-Robert-Ri... (Non affiliate link)
I actually have a Prime account and Kindle so I was able to read the book for free using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Through-Intimidation-Robert-Ri... (kindle edition link affiliate free)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KQZU7SY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=... (kindle edition link with affiliate id)
I highly recommend Winning Through Intimidation. It's not about what you think. I read it after someone else recommended it in another discussion on HN.
UPDATE: After posting this I read the sibling comments and see someone else also recommended the book. Seriously, read it!
Yes. You can try to bluff, but someone might call you.