Friday, October 19, 2007

Getting the Upper Hand: Leverage

It's THE most important aspect of any negotiation... levergage: the perceived advantage that one party has over another. Since leverage is based on perceptions, this subtle factor can change quickly and frequently through deliberations and even over the course of the relationship.
Many studies have shown that overall and generally women are lacking in this skill set compared to men. I'm not going to argue that theory one way or another here. Just offering some suggestions that I've learned along the way.
Prior to any negotiation, know the answers to the following questions:
1. What do I want?
2. Why should the other party negotiate with me?
3. What are my alternatives?
The key to determining leverage in a negotiating situation is assessing your needs and wants (question 1) and your other options (question 3), which will help you understand and control the other party's perceived advantage and answer question 2. The answer to question 2 is determined by the other party's perceived wants/needs and alternatives... which you might be able to sway.
Indicators of leverage are:
1. Who is initiating contact?
2. Meeting location? Their turf or yours??
3. Wait time prior to the meeting
4. Style of dress (the more formal, generally, the more submissive)
5. Gift-giving and meal-buying
6. Seating arrangement
7. Space and posture
8. Number of colleagues at the meeting (the entourage)
9. Touching and eye contact
10. Order and amount of speaking
11. Age
12. Gender (yes, I'll admit it... unfortunately, in most cultures women come second in business)

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