“This Is How To Use Leverage To Win Negotiations” – Negotiation Insight

“Leverage can be your tool for advancement, if you know how, when, and with whom to use it.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“This Is How To Use Leverage To Win Negotiations”

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

The art of doing the perfect deal is to find a negotiator with limited options. And the way to limit a negotiator’s options is to use leverage at the appropriate time. Leverage is an equalizing force in a negotiation that allows a negotiator to gain the upper hand. It’s what can lead a David to defeat Goliath. Thus, negotiators find leverage to be invaluable. The challenge that some negotiators have is not knowing how to maximize the use of leverage. But that won’t be your situation after you’ve acquired the following insights.

What Is Leverage

Leverage can be anything used to sway the other negotiator to become more amenable to your position – to see things from your point of view. Thus, it can be something that causes your opponent to change his opinions due to how you use leverage.

As an example, people in the U.S. have long thought that car dealerships are more open to making deals, to sell more cars, as the end of the month drew closer. Accordingly, smart car purchasers waited until that time to purchase their vehicle in hopes of getting a better deal. That’s how buyers were using leverage. They knew dealerships would be more inclined to making a deal at the end of the month to move inventory.

Why Use Leverage

As stated, leverage can boost your negotiation powers. And that’s why it behooves you to use it. But leverage can be an unforgiving mistress if mistreated.

In the car dealership example mentioned a moment ago, I know of some car purchasers that waited too close to the end of the month to purchase their vehicle. What they discovered was a salesperson that appeared not to be overly excited to haggle over a deal. When an organization called me in to assess what was occurring, I discovered that dealers in that area had moved their monthly sales cycle from the end of the month to the middle of the month. That shifted leverage back to their court because buyers were attempting to use leverage from an advantage point that no longer existed.

The lesson to observe is, yes, leverage can be your ally in a negotiation. But as a good negotiator, you must be aware of when power is flowing in your direction and when it’s not. Then, and only then, will you be able to maximize the use of leverage.  

Leverage Using Strategies

The optimum time to use leverage in a negotiation is when the other negotiator’s options are limited. By using leverage at that point, you can further limit his options. And once his options are limited to the extent that he has fewer of them, he’ll become more inclined to submit to your terms. As a warning, if you’re heavy-handed, he may choose to exit the negotiation because he feels that you’re mistreating him. So, be forewarned about overusing this tool when it’s not necessary.

  • Attack Larger Cause Or Purpose

Leverage doesn’t have to be used to attack the other negotiator directly. You can gain an advantage by using it to target a cause or purpose with whom he associates. If there’s a point of care he has for an entity, that point can become your target. In so doing, you’d cause him to assess how he’d respond from a weakened position. And on that occasion, your spill-over benefit might be to buy you more time to formulate a more effective use of leverage.   

  • Threats

Threats can become used as leverage by insinuating that nefarious activities are occurring at the behest of the other negotiator. Warning, this can be an extremely dangerous tactic to employ, especially if the accusation you threaten to divulge is untrue. I comment about it to heighten your sense of awareness, so you’re prepared if a negotiator attempts to use it against you. I’ve been privy to negotiation situations where the stakes were very high, and the negotiators were willing to almost stop at nothing to ensure their side a victory.

  • Feigned Injustice

I recall a time I was engaged in a phone negotiation as a mediator between two opposing sides. At one point in the talks, I bent over, when I did, I grunted. It was a low tone, but a member of one team pounced. She exclaimed that she knew I wasn’t neutral. I asked why she’d made that statement. She said she heard the sound I made. And that was confirmation that I favored the other team. I stated that nothing could be further from the truth. But truth be known, I recognized what she’d done. She was employing leverage. She made that statement in an attempt to position me as someone partial to her opponents. The implication was, her team would not receive a fair outcome.  

Feigned injustice or something ‘being rigged’ is a claim you’ll hear people make at times. When you hear such accusations, be aware that they’re attempting to put the outcome in question. And, the reason they’re doing so is to place themselves in a better light to question that outcome if it’s not in their favor. To confront feigned injustices, address it when a negotiator raises the subject. And be careful not to offer a solution that would favor his position if such doesn’t serve you.   


Leverage is a powerful tool that every good negotiator uses. And like any powerful tool, depending on how you use it, it can be beneficial or damaging. As a negotiator seeking to best use leverage in your negotiation, your task is easy. All you have to do is be prepared for the unexpected, and figure out what the other negotiator might do. Then, determine how you can use leverage to weaken his position or strengthen yours. Don’t over-complicate the negotiation by overly obsessing about using leverage.

Most negotiations are won or lost based on the outcome sought by the negotiators, and how they engage one another in their quest to accomplish their goals. Thus, as a savvy negotiator, you should consider how you might use leverage in particular situations during the negotiation. Then, be watchful when those situations present themselves. By doing that, you’ll be able to be adaptive to opportunities when they arise. Just remember what I’ve mentioned, and implement it. And everything will be right with the world.  

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

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

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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