One of the most common requests that I (initially) get from clients is: “Help us develop more power!” In negotiation, power refers to the ability to get (or make, or force, or coerce…) someone else to do what he or she doesn’t want to do.
When clients make this request it usually signals that the negotiation is presently not going their way. So akin to bringing your older brother as support in a kindergarten playground fight, clients hope that building power will allow them to start controlling the negotiation.
But power is the negotiation equivalent of brute force and ignorance. While it initially looks like the panacea that will resolve the situation in our favour, keen readers of this blog and our book now understand how power in negotiation causes more problems than it solves.
Instead there are much more elegant, and powerful ways to get what we want. In fact, sometimes even friendliness, kindness, love, understanding, charisma, humour and wit can disarm even the most antagonistic and power-wielding counter-parties.
There is perhaps no clearer (and more entertaining) illustration of this than when reverend Wade Watts found himself pitted against Johnny Lee Clary and the Ku Klux Klan.
After watching this clip, ask yourself the following:
- Which party had most power?
- Which party achieved their objective?
- If reverend Wade Watts was able to neutralise the power of Ku Klux Klan, then what excuse can I (the reader) possibly have for resorting to using power in plain vanilla commercial negotiations?