Power Play

People waste a ridiculous amount of time worrying about power in negotiations.

They worry about having it, or getting it or stopping others from taking it. They invest precious time trying to figure out how best to prove their power, like where to sit in the room or who gets to talk first.

The problem with wasting your time like this is that you put other people in charge of whether you are powerful. By worrying about power you actually make yourself less powerful.

According to Google’s default dictionary, “power” is the ability to do something or act in a particular way. It’s also the ability or capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or the outcome of events.

By ronkinight777 via Flickr.com

By ronkinight777 via Flickr.com

Sounds good, right?

Confidence is the feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.

In order to have power, you must have confidence. You have to believe that you can do what you want to do.

But when you worry and fret over whether the other person perceives you as powerful, you are, by definition, not confident.

And when you’re not confident, it’s harder to negotiate. Not only do you have to engage in the negotiation, which is tough work to begin with, but you also have to push past your self doubt in order to negotiate.

Looking at power this way it’s a lot easier to understand why  people can spend so much time worrying about power and posturing in a negotiation. It’s easier to focus on that stuff than it is to talk yourself into negotiating.

One of the problems with this approach is that you’re putting the other person in charge of whether or not you’re powerful. If they perceive you as powerful, you win! If they don’t, you lose.

The bigger drawback to this path of least resistance, though, is that you’ll end up spending more time fussing over power than you will on negotiating for what you actually need. You’ll spend a lot of time away from the work that makes you money but not get any closer to what it is you need.

Instead of spending your time trying to get the other person to admit you’re the most powerful thing in the room, invest that time doing things that will improve your confidence. This will ultimately improve your ability to negotiate a good deal.

How do you do that? Prepare.

It’s some of the most boring advice I give people who want to improve their negotiation skills, but it’s also the best.

Good negotiators don’t fly blind, they prepare. They know what they want and why. They know what the other side wants and do their best to understand why. They have at least one back up plan, usually more. They know if there are other parties that could influence the negotiation and if there are, they understand how they could influence it and why.

Even taking 15 minutes to prepare for a negotiation can improve your confidence. Instead of putting your future self on the spot to figure out what to do in the middle of the negotiation, prepare her for success by reviewing information and sketching out a few options before you start.

Spend your time wisely and answer these questions:

What do I want from this negotiation?

Why do I want what I want?

What do I think the other side’s interests in the negotiation are?

Is there information I don’t have that could be helpful in negotiating? How can I get it?

What can I do if this doesn’t work out?

By YardSale via Flickr.com

By YardSale via Flickr.com

Prepare for your negotiations and give yourself the confidence, and power, you really need to get the job done.

Categories: Self Awareness Tools

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