Personal Power to Conduct Negotiation Successfully

Herbert A. (Herb) Cohen is a lawyer, management consultant, convention speaker, trainer, seminar leader, high-powered negotiator and a very funny fellow. He has taught negotiation skills at educational institutions from the University of Michigan and Harvard to the F.B.I. Academy.

He has appeared on NEC’s “Today” and “Tomorrow” television shows and has consulted with the White House on negotiation strategy and tactics. The following is a sample of the wit, wisdom and snappy patter that colors Cohen’s speech as he explains how we all have the personal power it takes to conduct successful negotiations.

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• “People misunderstand power. Power is the capacity or ability to get things done….the ability to exercise control over people, events situations or one’s self. Power isn’t a destination but a journey, a way of getting from point A to point B. It isn’t a goal in itself.”

• “People confuse power over with power to. One is exploitive, the other is creative, sustaining and essential for human life. But power itself is neutral, not good, not bad, not moral or immoral.”

• “Power is based on perception. If you think you’ve got power, you’ve got it. If you think you don’t have it, even if you’ve got it, you don’t have it.”

The key to Cohen’s concept of Power Negotiation is his belief that we all have negotiating power simply through our existence as people who must be satisfied if the other side is to have its needs met. “Even the prisoner in solitary confinement has power,” says Cohen. Cohen believes that there are 12 sources of power we can draw on in any negotiation situation. They are:

The power to generate competition
“The more competition you generate for something, the more it is worth.” “It’s easier to get a job when you have one. It’s easier to get a loan when you don’t need one. It’s called the Bert Lance Theory of Loan Worthiness.”

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“You can always generate options. The future is always negotiable.”

The power of perceived legitimacy

“The printed word is powerful. If a person tells you to do something, you evaluate, consider and decide….If a sign tells you to do something, you do it.”

“Alien Funt, the “Candid Camera” man, closed down the state of Dela¬ware by putting up a sign, ‘Delaware Closed.'”

The power of risk taking

“Show me someone who is always successful in the exercise of power, and I’ll show you someone whose aspiration level is too low.”

“Risk can be syndicated. Shared loss is always managable.”

The power of other peoples’ commitment

“If you can get others involved with your ideas, if you can get them to commit to your risk…you have more power.”

“When the body moves, the head must follow.”

The power of knowledge and information
“Negotiating with people is not a single event, it’s a process.”

“You prepare by gathering information about their needs and giving information about your needs. You have to influence the expectations of the other side in advance. It takes people time to get used to new ideas. You want no surprises during the ac¬tual negotiation event.”

The power of perceived ability to coerce and reward
“Let other people think you have reward or punishment power, and you do.”
“When enough people think the boss’s secretary can help or hurt them, physically or psychologically, the secretary has power.”

The power of psychological investment
“Let the other side make an investment in the idea. People don’t walk away from ideas they have in¬vested time and effort in.”

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The power of identification
“If you seem to share my hopes and aspirations and dreams, I identify with your position and root for you.”

“Ordinary, non-millionaire people identify with the Kennedys because they are high achievers and because they overcome big personal obstacles.”

The power of reasoning and logic

“Reason and logic are tricky. I have to understand what you are talking about, your evidence must be overwhelming, and I must believe that what you’re saying meets my existing needs and desires.”

“Copernicus was understood and his evidence was overwhelming, but until someone noticed that there was a practical value in believing him, no one jumped up and said, ‘Hey, Let’s believe the Polish guy. He’s got a good thing going.'”

The power of persistence

“Say something long enough with enough conviction, and people will believe you.” “At Camp David, President Carter bored ’em into a peace pact.”

The power of time

“Most concessions are made close to the bargaining deadline. We are enormously influenced by deadlines. Always ask what the risk of moving a deadline is.”

The power of attitude and approach

“In negotiating, dumb is better than smart, inarticulate is better than articulate. Train yourself to say I don’t know, I don’t understand, I need your help.”

Through the fun and wit, Cohen presents some important points to ponder, points that clearly transcend the trivial negotiation of a labor con¬tract, a used car dealer, or a one-to-one relationship.

“It is critically important that people believe they have power,” says Cohen. The powerless must see that they do have and always will have power, regardless of their station or status. When people believe that they are powerless, that they can’t change or affect things, they react in one of two ways. Some become apathetic and throw in the towel; others become hostile and tear things down. Neither response is a desirable outcome for our society.”

More power to you—one and all.

Source : Training Magazine

You can download excellent powerpoint slides on HR management, business strategy and personal development HERE.