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  • Writer's pictureStu

Facing a power imbalance in a negotiation? 

When the other side flexes their muscles it can test us as negotiators. 

Here’s a 1-2-3 process to help you pass the test

😮‍💨 Step 1 - Take a breath. 

Feeling powerless messes with your mind, contaminating your presence and performance. So take a moment to step back from the noise of the situation. Detach. As William Ury would advise, step off the dance floor and go to the balcony. 

You might be surprised at what you see. For example, they’re talking to you for a reason. What is it?

⚡️Step 2 - Find power in your proposition. 

If you’re looking for power, find it in what you bring to the table. Dig into your proposition and discover how it will make a difference in the other party’s world. How will they be different as a result? 

So many negotiators undercook this. If you can’t see what you bring to the table in Ultra High Definition, how will you help the other side see it? 

🛠️ Step 3 - Get to work on the real problem to be solved. 

A professional negotiator is a professional problem solver. They don’t get distracted by the power games. They get to work on the real problems that need to be solved to move things forward. 

So, with the insights gained from Step 2, what is the real problem that must now be solved? What doesn’t the other party see? How might you help them see it? 

These strategies, and more, were covered in our World Commerce & Contracting session yesterday on Power Imbalance in Negotiations. I had the pleasure of collaborating with the super-experienced Anne Brady LLB(Hons) ACMA CGMA CPA and Anubhav Madan MCIPS MAICD.

Keen to learn more? You can get a one-pager on Countering a Power Imbalance using the link below👇

Springboarding off the session with Sarah Blackie on Trust Blindspots, there are some important questions to ask about trust in the context of power.

If there's anything that undermines trust, it's when one party flexes its muscles and tries to force its will on the other. In our session yesterday, we touched on the deep human need for autonomy - the right to make our own choices.

If the other feels like we are in a more powerful position, that could be a problem for us. If they feel like we're misusing power, there can be a ripple effect of consequences that can last for years.

What are ways we can help the other retain some autonomy? How can we help them see that they still have choices?


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