6 Tricks to Negotiate with More Power

When you’re at the negotiating table, power isn't just attitude. You also want to behave in ways that show you're at the top of your game.

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #444

1.) Know the power dynamics and realities

It’s smart to assess the realities and perceptions. The reality: since they approached her, and her business is doing just fine, she doesn’t actually need anything they have to offer. So in fact, she has something they want, and so far, they haven’t demonstrated that they have anything she wants. That means she has all the leverage, and at the moment, all the power. Now she has to act like it.

The perception: Since they’re the 800-pound Audrey II of the plant industry (they used to be the 800-pound gorilla, but a gorilla is no match for an Audrey II), and since they’re offering her a job, GOT GREEN is probably coming in thinking that they are one-up and that Bernice is chomping at the bit to be noticed by such a Magnificent Enterprise.

She needs to adjust their perception so they begin to treat her as a serious entrepreneur and CEO in her own right. She needs to convey that she’s the Audrey II that could gobble up their 800-pound gorilla.6 Tricks to Negotiate with More Power

2.) Power is signaled even with logistics

Her instinct is to call GOT GREEN and ask, “What time and where do you want me to come for the meeting?” “What’s the job you’re offering?” “Is my plant store experience enough for me to get a Vice President level job with you?” Even though she asks in a confident voice tone, she's asking as if GOT-GREEN is the final authority on everything. They come from a place of “Little, unworthy me wants something out of Grand Amazing You.” They immediately put Bernice in a one-down position by assuming that GOT GREEN has all the answers and all the benefits, and all she can do is comply with whatever they are generous enough to offer. A powerful person expect to have input, and have their issues considered, too.

3.) Convey power by controlling the process

When you’re at the negotiating table, power isn't just attitude. You also want to behave in ways that show you're at the top of your game.

While weak questions presuppose GOT GREEN has all the power, Bernice can use questions very powerfully. Questions absolutely have a place in a negotiation, and that place is finding out enough about the other side’s needs and constraints that you can craft an offer that meets their needs, and find leverage to get them to meet yours. In this case, though, all of Bernice’s questions come down to some form ofasking permission or asking for the result of their decision, which are what a one-down person does. Instead, she can decide what answers she wants and she can be the one to offer them the opportunity to provide them.

And this is the crux of how Bernice signals power. She takes control of the process. Instead of asking these questions, she can make declarative statements that give them a chance to counter-offer.

Instead of “What time and where do you want me to come for the meeting?” she can say, “Let’s meet Friday at 5 pm at Green Growing Things 1, behind the Audrey II feeding pens. If you’d prefer another time, let me know and we can schedule something.” She’s taking control of the process, while leaving them plenty of leeway to choose a new date, time, or place. Framing things this way communicates, “I’m a busy person, I’m in control of this situation, I’m going to move it along at my pace” instead of deferring to GOT GREEN to move at their pace. She doesn't necessarily expect them to move at her pace—large companies often move very slowly due to their size—but she's signaling that her needs are as important as theirs.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.