One of the exercises that I frequently do in my seminars is to develop a list of things that generate power and I thought that this is an important enough subject to include in an article. An interesting dynamic occurs in a negotiation and that is that almost always there is a question as to who has the most power. The fact is that what is important is not what power that you really have but what power your adversary perceives that you have, because as we all know perception is reality.
So what actions can we take to generate power either before a negotiation begins or even during a negotiation?
“Knowledge itself is Power” –Sir Francis Bacon 1597. I am pretty sure that almost everyone has heard this quote and it is also one of the first things that comes up in my seminars when we tackle this subject. I have discussed many times the importance of preparation in any negotiation and preparation is the best place to expand that knowledge base and thus increase your power. But knowledge of the particular situation limits out thoughts on what knowledge is important, what about you adversaries company, the company you work for, the industry that you are in, the market situation etc. The bottom line is we do not know what knowledge will be important at a particular meeting. Commit to a process of continuous learning and stay up to date on current events, you never know what will come up. You cannot know it all but if you come to a negotiation with the specifics of the situation as well as a strong knowledge base on a variety of subjects you will have more power.
Legal documents. In my daily tasks for many of my clients either they or their staff call me and ask me questions and almost all of the time there is a legal document that has all the answers but, for a variety of reasons, they may not have access to that document. Questions in a situation like that are understandable but what is not understandable is that so many people do not even read the documents that they have access to. I recently completed a contact negotiation for one of my clients and when my client made the payment that was required in the contract the other side became upset and sent back a demand for more payment. Their justification was what they “thought” the agreement said. When confronted with the document and a letter of response they quite frankly shocked that what they “thought” was so far from the reality of what was written in the contract. This was a hard lesson for the other side to learn and needless to say they were very disappointed with the person that negotiated the agreement for them.
Confidence, presence, and a good presentation are all very important and create an enormous amount of power and that cannot be underestimated. I recently did back to back 2 day training seminars in Canada and one of the participants in the first two day session came to see me during a break in the second training. He stated that he just negotiated a very significant savings of $50,000 from a vendor. I asked him what he felt was the difference and he said that after the training he went back prepared with a plan, cleaned up his presentation, and most importantly, he was far more confident.