In M&A, sentiment can change fast. Take Elon Musk’s rollercoaster of a deal to acquire Twitter as a prime example. Initially announced in April 2022 at $44 billion, the acquisition ran cold by July due to Musk’s concerns with the platform. Although a lawsuit was filed by Twitter, and even with the shadow of a court date looming in October 2022, Musk eventually reignited the deal and successfully purchased Twitter.

So, when you find yourself in a deal that’s going cold, what’s the game plan for getting things on track? Here are some key pointers:

Keep Communication Lines Open, Even When Things Turn Cold

The biggest mistake you can make is going dark. Even if you have reservations, maintaining open communication is crucial. Silence can make the other party nervous and lead to an irreversible breakdown of trust.

If you intend to use silence as a negotiation tactic, do so only with a clear understanding of the power of silence and when to use it.

Pre-Emptive Clarity is Worth Its Weight in Gold

It’s better to air your concerns sooner rather than later. Musk had doubts about Twitter’s due diligence. While these momentarily derailed the deal, the circumstances were eventually addressed. If something bothers you, a well-drafted letter or strategic meeting can make all the difference in clearing misunderstandings and aligning everyone’s expectations.

Revisit and Reassess the Fine Print

Before you put a deal on ice, make sure you’ve consulted your legal team about the ramifications, including exit/break fees or the loss of a deposit. Musk had the option of a $1 billion ‘exit fee,’ but instead chose to reinstate the deal under its original terms, showing that you can make a U-turn if the road ahead is clear.

Count All Costs, Not Just Monetary Ones

Deals are more than just dollars and cents; they also carry reputational and relational costs. Always weigh the costs and benefits, both tangible and intangible, before making drastic changes to your negotiation stance.


Deals can get cold faster than a Melbourne winter morning (or afternoon?), but that’s not the end of the story. A chill in negotiations often calls for some strategic warming—revisiting your legal standing, maybe reopening lines of communication, and sometimes just taking a step back to look at the bigger picture.

So, if you find yourself in a deal that’s gone from hot to cold, don’t panic. Take it as a phase in the intricate dance of business negotiations. It requires a bit more finesse, dialogue, and patience to turn the temperature back up. After all, if a deal as complex as Musk’s Twitter acquisition can come back to life, there’s hope for the rest of us navigating the ups and downs of business dealings.