Power of negotiations

Photo by Andrew Neel
Photo by Andrew Neel

Negotiations are exciting. Whether in a private environment or in business. After all, it’s about bringing two interests together and achieving a result that adds value for both sides – the classical Win-Win. During the negotiation there is some finger-wagging and a few interesting aspects to consider.

Of course, as with many things in life, stringent preparation is essential. First of all, I have to be aware of my own competence and my offer. I have to be so deeply in the matter that I can competently represent the topic. I have to clearly point out my strengths and how the other person benefits from doing the deal with me. These are the basics.

But even more important is that I must know my counterpart as well as possible. What makes him tick? What is his personality type? What are his basic values and what are his needs? The better I know my counterpart, the better I can focus my argumentation on them and gain power.

Power is a big word. We often associate it with money, physical strength or hierarchical position. Ghandi opposed this with a completely different concept: “Power has the one who doesn’t want anything!” What was that supposed to mean? Is power not clearly defined by the aspects described above? Why should someone be powerful who doesn’t want anything?

My little daughter taught me what that meant. If you want her to go to kindergarten on time, who has the power? You, the big dad, or the little girl who sits on the floor and says “I don’t like it”? What to do in such a situation? Turn your physical superiority into violence? Threatening that she would destroy her future if she doesn’t go?  Begging her? Who’s on the long lever now?

The same applies to negotiations. If the employee comes up with his or her wish for a salary increase, you are in a powerful position on the longer lever. After all, he wants something from you. If I have no budget at all for salary increases, then the balance of power shifts immediately. After all, you want to retain and reward a good employee. Suddenly you have to be creative to keep him happy and he has gained power over you. After all, he can just quit and leave you alone with the all the work.

During negotiations you should always ask yourself who wants what?  If, driven by the sales pressure in the company, I radiate despair in the sales process, the customer will be able to dictate the conditions. On the other hand, I can also set the price when I see that the customer urgently needs help.

Of course, the aim of a negotiation is always to reach an agreement at eye level – a balanced relationship without a too large power gap. After all, every deal is the beginning of a partnership.

What about you?

Have you ever felt powerless despite hierarchical superiority?

Do you know the needs of your negotiating partners?

Do you actively use this knowledge in conducting conversations?

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