Taking a seat at the negotiation table can be nerve-wracking for even the most seasoned professionals. There’s inevitably something significant at stake — be that new business, a working relationship or achieving your policy objectives. You never know for sure how the individual opposite you perceives the situation and whether they are open to engaging in a conversation with you, and the power dynamics at play.
According to Dacher Keltner of the University of California at Berkeley and his colleagues, powerful negotiators demonstrate “approach related” behaviours such as expressing positive moods and searching for rewards in their environment.
By contrast, powerless individuals tend to experience a great deal of self-inhibition, triggered by fear of potential threats. At KC Academy, we’ve outlined three critical ways you can use power to your advantage in negotiations.
1. Powerful Negotiators Take Action
Whether generated by a strong Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement or “BATNA” a decisive role, or a sense of confidence, power leads negotiators to behave more proactively throughout the negotiation process.
Powerful negotiators are more inclined than less powerful negotiators to make the first offer. In fact, in one study, having a solid alternative to a negotiated agreement led negotiators to be three times more likely to make the first offer. Notably, making the first offer leads to a significant bargaining advantage.
Those in this position of power are also more persistent than other negotiators, less likely to give up when confronted with setbacks and obstacles, and more likely to strive toward more aggressive goals. As long as they have something to gain, high power negotiators typically will not accept an impasse. This assertiveness produces gains for the powerful negotiator and enables mutually beneficial tradeoffs that can benefit both sides.
2. Powerful Negotiators are Protected
Power offers protective armour against the treacherous behaviour of your opponents; the powerful are not easily manipulated.
Immediately before negotiating with someone you know to be emotional and demanding, reflect on a time you arranged with a strong BATNA. Recall your sense of confidence and control. Generating psychological power can immunise you from your opponent’s angry tactics.
3. Powerful Negotiators Lose Perspective
One of the most crucial skills that negotiators can develop is perspective-taking or appreciating and understanding the world from another perspective.
However, there is a negative effect of power on negotiation behaviour and outcomes: powerful negotiators often fail to take their counterpart’s perspectives.
Power leads individuals to overlook what the other party wants and needs and why he needs it.
Power in negotiation is most effective at the bargaining table when combined with perspective-taking. When the powerful take time to consider their counterpart’s points of view, they harness the positive benefits of power (including making first offers and persistence) without succumbing to excessive risk-taking.
The ultimate lesson? Strive to possess power in your next negotiation – or feel powerful – and follow up with perspective-taking to ensure you achieve your desired BATNA.
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