It’s easy to see how a person having more power in a relationship can lead to a sub-optimal negotiation outcome for the other party. The person with more power may have more bargaining chips, positional authority or status and so they negotiate harder and from a stronger position.
Interestingly, it’s not just having power that makes us negotiate better. Feeling more powerful can impact how we negotiate too.
The key word here is ‘feel’.
No matter where it comes from, when we feel more powerful, we are more powerful, and we get better outcomes when negotiating.
Dutch researchers found this to be the case – particularly for women.
Alain Hong and Per van der Wijst of Tilburg University asked people to recall times when they had power. While the control group were asked to write about how they spend their evenings.
The participants then went into a series of negotiations. The results showed that women who were primed to feel powerful made much more aggressive first offers and negotiated better outcomes for themselves than the women in the control group did.
Interestingly, men reached similar outcomes whether or not they were primed to feel powerful.
The results of this study show that women who were primed with the experience of having power behaved differently.
The good news is we can all feel more powerful.
If you want to feel more powerful here are some tips:
- Practice Amy Cuddy’s power poses. Her research shows that striking a pose for two minutes where you stretch and expand your body to take up as much space as possible impacts how you feel
- Sit up straight because how you sit and your posture impacts your behaviour and how confident you feel
- Tap into your inner sense of power, which comes from knowing who you are and liking yourself
- Get enough sleep, exercise and eat well because feeling physically fit and mentally alert enables you to better manage yourself and feel equipped to get the best out of a negotiation
- Be clear on what you can control and what you can’t control in a situation, so you use your energy wisely
Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, who wrote the very powerful book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ said: Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
When we accept that fact we can better realise how much power we really have to tap into.
Change happens. Make it work for you.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’. For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.