“The only time you should be afraid of power is when you give it to someone you don’t trust.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
“They don’t care that I’ve lost my job. All they want is their money!” Those were the heavy words of a tear-faced man recounting his unenviable position to someone from whom he was seeking a loan.
Are you being scared by someone? Do you recognize their source of power as positional or situational? The way you confront someone should be based on their power source and how they’re using it.
Those possessing positional power, as an example your boss, will only be able to maintain that power while you’re in their domain. The boss may use as a scare tactic the threat of termination if you don’t achieve his goals, which will threaten your well-being and sense of security.
With situational power, the holder only has sway as long as the situation that gave him his power exists. Once the situation has abated so too does his power. Thus, an automobile mechanic only has power over you until your vehicle is repaired. It’s during that tenure that he has the opportunity to scare you. That might be in the form of telling you something dire has occurred with your vehicle that will require ‘x’ amount of money to repair. The more dependent you are on him repairing the vehicle, the more power you give him to scare you in the interim.
While positional power can possess some of the same characteristics as situational power, situational power will tend not to last as long as positional power.
When efforts are made to scare you through positional power, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That means, don’t be an easy target. Position yourself as someone that’s savvy and someone that will extract a toll if someone picks on you.
We’ve all been caught in a moment of despair. The way you present yourself at that moment will be the factor that signals how others should deal with you. Thus, with the mechanic, it would not behoove you to discuss the important meeting you have in a few days for which you’ll need your vehicle. If you give him such insights, you’re only placing yourself in a more vulnerable position.
Keep in mind that sometimes people will use scare tactics to manipulate you. Their degree of success will lie in how you present yourself and how you rebuff their efforts. The better prepared you are to recognize their source of power, the better you’ll be prepared to combat their power source … and everything will be right with the world.
What does this have to do with negotiations?
Negotiations are all about power. It’s the perception of power that determines how one acts in a negotiation. Therefore, negotiators use different techniques to shape the perception of their power depending on the circumstances (e.g. scarcity/abundance, loss/gain, fear/safety, etc.)
If you become adept at identifying power sources, how it’s used, and how long it might last, you can position yourself to thwart it at your chosen point in a negotiation. You will be the one in the power position, using the trapdoor of hidden knowledge to scare others.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
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