Use Positional Power To Negotiate Successfully

Do you use positional power wisely when you negotiate? Do you use it to your advantage, or are you taken advantage of due to your lack of recognition and use of positional power?

Positional power occurs in every negotiation. It’s fluid and thus it’s ever changing as the negotiation progresses. By understanding the dynamics of a negotiation and being aware of when you have positional power, you can enhance your efforts to obtain the results you seek from the negotiation.

  • What is positional power?

When you possess information, a tangible item, or something that’s of perceived value by the other negotiator, you have positional power. The degree of value you hold at that moment is dependent on the value the other negotiator applies to possessing what you have.

  • How can you use positional power to your advantage when negotiating?

When you recognize that you have positional power, you can suggest or demand, depending on the situation, that a proposal that you’ve put forth be met, or concessions be made to oblige your position. Be cautious as to how you flaunt positional power, because it shifts throughout the negotiation and once you lose it, you may fall prey to its use by the other negotiator.

  • How can you recognize when positional power occurs?

Positional power can be glimpsed in a gesture received from a negotiator and/or perceived as the result of a superior position that one possess at a given time in the negotiation. It will usually be displayed in the form of one negotiator feeling superior and making statements that match that demeanor.

  • If you know you’ll have positional power in a negotiation, how should you initiate it and when should you implement it?

Positional power can occur as the result of the location in which the negotiation is held, the environment in which the negotiation is conducted, and the accoutrements found in the surroundings of the negotiation. These variables affect positional power, because they create the atmosphere for the manner by which the negotiation will be conducted. Therefore, in the planning stages of your negotiation determine at what point you might have positional power, based on what you estimate to occur in the negotiation, and justify your implementation accordingly. In addition, calculate any potential backlash that may occur from your actions and include that in your calculations.

  • How can you guard against being blindsided by the perception of the other negotiator having positional power?

Be observant of attempts to chide you into accepting someone else’s positional power through bullying tactics. This can come in the form of the other negotiator not accepting validated information, and/or refusing to accept reality for what it is. When encountering such a situation, ignore tirades of such an individual and seek to negotiate with saner minds, which could present itself in the form of the bully calming down.

To recap, positional power arises when control shifts from one negotiator to the other, due to one negotiator having something of a higher perceived value. During such times, the negotiator with whom positional power resides has an advantage. The manner in which one controls positional power determines how long she’ll have control in the negotiation and the degree of influence she’ll maintain in the process. Thus, when using positional power, if used appropriately, you can enhance your negotiation efforts … and everything will be right with the world. Remember, you’re always negotiating.

“Position yourself powerfully from which to negotiate and you’ll be better positioned to negotiate from a powerful position.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator

 The Negotiation Tips Are …

  • Recognize when you have positional power during a negotiation and use it wisely.
  • Sometimes, you can make more gains when you possess positional power by not using it. If the other negotiator knows you have it, positional power can serve as a deterrent to actions that he otherwise might commit.
  • Positional power can occur at any time during a negotiation and be disguised in many different forms. Be vigilant to the opportunities in which it may be cloaked.
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