One party was in the majority, which meant they had control of the house. The other party performed a drastic act to challenge the power of the majority party. Thus began the challenge to power in the negotiation.
Power in a negotiation is the degree that one negotiator has it and the opposing negotiator agrees with him. It’s perceptional. It’s also the degree one negotiator will go to expose and use her power to advance her position. Since power ebbs and flows in a negotiation, some negotiators have it, don’t use it, and they lose it.
The following will allow you to identify when you’re in a power position in a negotiation and how to offset the opposing negotiator’s power.
Mental perspective of power:
Since power is perceptional it can be difficult to identify. If one negotiator is better at bluffing per what he’ll accept or reject, he can convey power while in reality, he’s in a much less powerful position than his exploits might indicate. To understand that negotiator’s potential power moves, understand the mindset he possesses and to what degree he’s willing to act powerful. Thus, knowing his mindset will give you insight into the amount of push-back you have to apply before he’ll back down. Having such insight and testing him will also give you insight into how he might perceive the power you wheel.
Timing your use of power:
When assessing when to use power, consider where you are in the negotiation. If you’re in the beginning, you might be more cautious about making a power move than if you were near the end and had to advance your position quickly. On the other hand, based on your strategy, you might make a power move early to set the tone and send a signal of the type of negotiation style you were going to engage in.
Thus, the timing of when you’ll display power and to what degree you’ll do so depends on what has occurred prior to your implementation of a power play, where you expect to be after you make it, and what emotional state you’ll leave the other negotiator in.
Per making a power move more powerful, if appropriate, don’t give any warning or advance notice prior to implementing it. The more of a surprise (I didn’t see that coming) you make such a move the greater will be its impact. After you execute a power move, measure its effectiveness to determine the degree you have more or less power.
Observe body language:
By observing the body language of the opposing negotiator when you make a power move, you’ll gain insight into his mindset, how impactful your power play was and how he might attempt to recover.
If you observe him taking deep breaths (that took the air out of me), rubbing his eye(s) (I didn’t see that coming), scratching at his forehead (I’ve got to think about this), leaning away from you/the table (I need to get away from this), all such gestures will telegraph the impact that your power display had on him. You’ll also be able to note the ups and downs of his mood.
As you can see, there are many aspects to consider when determining how, when, and why to use and display power in a negotiation. The better you become at detecting when you versus the other negotiator is in a power position, even if it’s when either of you are bluffing, the greater insight you’ll have per when to use power and to what degree to apply it. Such insight will lead you to more successful negotiation outcomes … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!