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
Episode #444

4.) Keep the process moving

When they say “Great, we’ll get back to you sometime later this week to confirm,” it sounds like good news. But only partly. Because that leaves the next actions in their hands. If they’re still thinking of this as a standard employee interview, they might jerk her around for weeks before getting back to her with anything definitive.

Her maneuver here is to keep the process moving, herself. She does this by making sure there’s always a next step on the calendar in a time frame that works for her. “That sounds great. I’ll expect to hear from you by Wednesday at 2 pm. Does that work for you?”

By using phrasing like “I’ll expect to hear from you,” she’s again making the power dynamic clear—she’s an important person who has expectations about this process. She ends with a question that gives them the freedom to propose a different time, but she’s making sure the process keeps moving and never depends on them having to remember to get back to her.

5.) Rebalance the power dynamic subtly in your favor

“What’s the job you’re offering?” becomes “We can talk about your needs and my needs and how we can work together.” Instead of framing the discussion as them offering little, defenseless her a job, she’s framed the discussion as a meeting of equals trying to meet each others’ needs. This is a much more powerful framing.

“Is my experience enough to qualify for VP?” becomes “I’m the founder and CEO of Green Growing Things and that carries with it a certain level of status, autonomy, and control. Let’s put that on the agenda for our conversation. Is there anything you’d like me to add to the agenda, from your end?”

Next time you go into a negotiation, take a moment to assess your mental state, the real power dynamics, and how you’re thinking about the power dynamics. 

6.) Make yourself the decision-maker

Bernice had the meeting yesterday, at the time she suggested. It turns out that meeting by the Audrey II feeding pens gave her a bit more psychological control than she’d anticipated. There's nothing like the crunching sounds of an Audrey II feeding to make it clear who has the power. She explained her needs, listened to GOT GREEN’s needs, and at the end, both sides decided that the most sensible way to go would be for Green Growing Things to acquire GOT GREEN.com. Details to be determined.The first framing, “is my experience enough to quality?” implies that GOT-GREEN is the judge of her. The reframe implies they’re equals, by reminding them that she’s a CEO (albeit of a small business) and that she has needs that are getting met that they’re going to have to meet in order to get her. Suddenly she’s the one judging their offer, not the other way around. Then she offers, quite reasonably, to add their items to the agenda. But notice that by doing so, now she’scontrolling the agenda and gets to be the one who is adding items that they’re requesting. There’s been a real change in who’s one-up and who’s one-down, and all it took was a couple of sentences.

Next time you go into a negotiation, take a moment to assess your mental state, the real power dynamics, and how you’re thinking about the power dynamics. Don’t ask lot of permission questions; instead, use declarative proposals of working together, that give the other side a chance to respond. Keep control of the calendar to keep the process moving, and keep your framing powerful, while giving the other side plenty of flexibility. I’m not saying you’ll take over the world this way, but if you do, send along a seven-figure bonus check for the Get-it-Done Guy. There are two Bs in Robbins.

This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people have Extraordinary Lives and extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com or join my personal mailing list by texting GETITDONE to 33444. You’ll also get a free copy of my secret book chapter on how to build relationships that help you succeed.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins 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. 

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