“Beware Of The Ultimate Authority You Give To Authority” – Negotiation Insight

“Beware of the person that claims authority. For what they claim is only theirs if you grant it.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Beware Of The Ultimate Authority You Give To Authority”

People don’t realize; they’re always negotiating!

When does someone have power? Answer – when others relinquish it or have it taken from them.

I can’t ask him to increase his rate; he’s a lawyer. The doctor cast a stern look at the nurse, and the nurse sheepishly slinked away. The nurse had a humiliating feeling of belittlement, which led him to think, “I better not question the doctor again. That was very discomforting.”

How many times has someone with authority caused you discomfort? If the event envokes terrible memories, do you still have challenging times when dealing with authority figures? If so, you need to be mindful of how you interact with such people. One way to do that is to realize you have authority too. And there’s power in it.   

When dealing with those that have authority, remember the following …

Setting The Stage

Every interaction you have with someone assists in creating the environment of your next encounter. And the more interactions you have with people possessing traits of authority, the more you’ll act the same with other individuals with similar characteristics. That’s why you should be cautious about your response to such individuals, especially if you supplicate yourself to them when negotiating.

To break a spiraling downward cycle of self-degrading, when dealing with people of authority, consider:

  • not supplicating yourself because of their perceived status
  • establish new relationships on mutual respect based on your value
  • Re-establish prior relations on the amount of value you’ve added to it; if need be, discuss how you may have received the low end of past deals.
  • highlight the benefit of longterm relations based on mutual respect
  • talk about the ‘value-add’ you bring to engagements and how that person’s influence will become enhanced by the outcome you assist in achieving

Remember, if you think you can’t challenge people with authority, you’re permitting them to continue their behavior. Thus, if you want them to alter their behavior towards you, you have to initiate that change in them. And the way you do that is by standing up for yourself.

Know Your Value

Before a negotiation begins, who determines the value of what the negotiation entails? And, what variables do you consider to determine an item’s value?  Do you ponder the authority someone possesses based on their credentials – the status conveyed by the letters behind their name, their degrees? If you give weight to your assessment, based on those variables, you may be needlessly heightening their credibility. Your perspective becomes worse when seeing yourself, as being incapable of refuting such individuals when negotiating.  

When speaking with someone about your services or product, as long as they’re talking, they sense value. If you think, because they’re a lawyer, a doctor, or whatever, that you don’t have power in the engagement, you’re giving away power, which is a form of control. And the more control you relinquish, the higher the probability the other person will control you.

Before entering a negotiation, know the value of what you possess. If need be, be prepared to discuss how you arrived at your value proposition. But only do so, when a client or prospect is committed to addressing your value in good faith. That’s to say, don’t answer questions about how you arrived at it until the other person is committed to genuine engagement.

The point is, negotiations are about control. And the person in control is the one asking questions; that’s because receiving information can be more beneficial than giving it, depending on how you use it. Thus, you must be cautious about the information you provide, when you give it, and the timing of its release. If done too hastily, your response might become perceived as being flippant. If done with deliberation, the other person might view that as you not having much thought about it before he asked the question. Always be mindful of the degree of control you have in a negotiation. And that’s displayed through your mannerisms when asking or answering questions, along with the timing of those questions.   

Positional Power

During a negotiation, power flows back and forth between negotiators. That means you have more power than your counterpart at certain times. It’s during those times when your influence is most substantial that you should press the other negotiator. Those opportunities may occur due to the positional power you have. And that may stem from your leverage during specific periods.

Therefore, assemble points of leverage to use during the negotiation before the talks begin. To do that, gather information about the party with whom you’ll be negotiating from your associates and his. You should look for points of information that will cause the other party angst or relief, depending on what’s called for in a situation.

An example of causing angst with a lawyer who’d reach out to you to solicit your business might be reminding him of the less-than-stellar reputation he has for not paying his invoices on time. After issuing that reminder, pause. Don’t be the first to speak. Let him experience the angst you just placed upon him. If you observe him becoming somewhat deflated, that’ll signal the momentary control he’s given you. And that will also be a point in which you’ll have authority in the negotiation. That’s the time to suggest an up-front payment for him to engage your services, which could be his beginning stage of relief.


As you engage anyone with whom you initiate business opportunities, be it attorney clients, doctors, or whomever, never give unfounded authority to their status or station simply because of their perceived status. If you do, you’ll place yourself in a weak negotiation position. Always remember that you possess value when negotiating. Instead of supplicating yourself to someone with perceived authority, highlight the value-add you bring to the environment. That will strengthen your position. And everything will be right with the world.    

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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