Some negotiators emit weakness when they’re negotiating. There’s danger in doing that. Other negotiators exude strength. There’s danger in that, too. A successful negotiator knows how to project power while avoiding the threat of being perceived as overbearing, stubborn, or unrelenting. They also know when to appear robust and when to appear weak.
The following are ways that you can be a strong negotiator while avoiding danger and becoming more successful in your negotiations.
First, be mindful of the negotiator type with whom you’re negotiating. Some negotiators will view you as an opponent or adversary, while others will see you as an advisor or friend. It’s essential to identify and know the different characteristics displayed by negotiators. That’ll determine how you’ll negotiate with them.
Adversary Versus Advisor:
If a negotiator perceives you as too overbearing, he may become obstinate. When you appear weak, some negotiators will take advantage of you. So, you must know when to adopt the right persona. You can determine that by how the other negotiator sees you versus how you wish him to view you.
When dealing with someone that notes you as an adversary, his mindset is, he’s in a rigorous engagement, and there’s only one winner, him. With this type of negotiator, stand your ground. Challenge him before making concessions. Make him earn what he receives. That will enhance the respect he has for you and your abilities.
When viewed as an advisor or friend, display a demeanor of agreeability. You want this negotiator type to feel at ease with you. Create a climate whereby ideas are free to be exchanged. That will encourage that person to be more amenable to your offers, thoughts, and ideas. Also, he won’t feel threatened when you propose something that may appear to be out-of-bounds.
When projecting strength or weakness, know when to switch roles. Displaying the advisor role (e.g., I’d like to gather a little more information so I can best determine how I might meet your request), is an excellent way to break the frame. It’ll allow you to morph from a position of weakness to strength or vice versa. Be sure to change your demeanor when doing so. Do that by adjusting your body language to meet the new image that you project.
As an example, if you’re acting the role of a competent person and you switch to a weaker one, sit smaller in your chair. Do that by slouching, and drawing your body closer to itself as though you were afraid.
To project an image of strength, expand the space you’re occupying. Accomplish that by increasing the size of your body, and making big gestures when you speak. You can also move your objects further away. You want to occupy more space to appear more confident. That nonverbal gesture states that you feel comfortable and unafraid of anything in the environment.
You can also use inflections in your voice to cast the appropriate demeanor. Do that by placing a stronger or weaker inference on the words that are most important to you. That will add value to your persona.
Like everything in life – the more you know about the environment you’ll be in and the people in it, the better prepared you can be for what might occur. Knowing how to move back and forth stealthfully, from a forceful negotiator image to one less dynamic, will allow you to have more influence over the negotiation. Plus, you won’t have to worry about being perceived as an ogre when you adopt a more rigorous personality. That will keep the negotiation wolves away from your door, those that would seek retribution for you being too strong against them… and everything will be right with the world.