What does power look like in negotiations? Is it encompassed in the outcome (i.e. he who obtains the most is more powerful)? Is it encapsulated within the flow of the negotiation, or does it stem from another source? You can win more negotiations by using power right, but first, you must know how and when to deploy your power. Thus, your assessment of how to present the presence of power should be based on the negotiator type that you’re negotiating with.
Lead or Led
Power in a negotiation may take the form of the person that’s leading or the person that’s led. In the former situation, a false pretense can be assumed because he assumes he’s in the lead. That can lend itself to a false sense of bravado, which might cause one to expose his hand.
On the other hand, some people prefer to be led in a negotiation. Of the four personality types of negotiators (i.e. Hard/Closed, Hard/Open, Easy/Closed, Easy/Open) the ‘Easy/Open’ negotiator type is the one most susceptible to being led.
The most combative of the negotiator types will be the ‘hard/closed’ negotiator. His mental perspective is, ‘the only way I can win is if you lose.’ Thus, he’ll fight you for every gain you acquire and be very reluctant to make concessions unless he receives something in return. Just as an aside, some negotiators will adopt this posture to assess your response. That means this style of negotiation is not his preferred manner to negotiate. You can gain insight into the validity of his attempts by adopting the same demeanor, making a small concession and seeing how he responds or challenging him per his demeanor. In either case, don’t engage too deeply until you’ve gained enough of an assessment to know definitively what he’s up to.
This negotiator type will not be as rigid as the ‘hard/closed’ type, but she may be close. She won’t be as gruff. Her demeanor will be one of allowing you the hope of acquiring more of what you seek if you go along with her plans.
With this type, go slow. Allow her to lead you to gain insight into her plans. Again, make small concessions when appropriate and request concessions to determine how amenable she might be to a give and take process. Don’t attempt to be heavy-handed with her. If you do, she may stiffen and become the ‘hard/closed’ type.
The ‘easy’ type of negotiators are the most amenable types to negotiate with. While the ‘easy/closed’ type will be the most difficult between the two, she will still be more open than the ‘closed’ types.
With this type of negotiator, adopt a power position; this is to let her know that you recognize the power you possess in the negotiation. Don’t pose it as an outright threat. Instead, position it as the silent stick that can be employed if the carrot doesn’t work.
This is the easiest type to negotiate with. He will be amenable to following your lead. Be sure not to spook him. If he feels safe in the negotiation, he’ll follow your lead without question; he’ll even do so to his detriment. But he wants things to appear fair, so be aware of this trait in him. The best power to employ is the appearance of no power. Let him think he’s in the lead and you can lead him from behind.
When using power in a negotiation, the way you employ it based on the negotiator type will impact the success you have with it. By knowing when and how to employ your power, you’ll be in a more powerful position throughout the negotiation… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!