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The Power of Negotiations

By Donald L. Caruth, Ph.D and Gail D. Caruth

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“In life conflict is a certainty!” We face conflict everywhere (Van Huystee, 1999, p. 1). When we experience conflict how do we respond? Is it in a way that facilitates dialogue, understanding, and a winning resolution to the conflict for all parties involved? How can unsettling differences be successfully resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties and in a way that is the most effective?

According to Stephen Covey an effective negotiator needs to apply empathy (seeking first to understand and then to be understood) and synergy (arriving at a creative third alternative) in negotiations. By using these rules for negotiations, magic happens as people begin to understand each other, tempers cool, and people become more open to influence. On the other hand, by playing hardball both parties end up (at best) with a compromised outcome.

What is Power?

Power as defined by Webster is “a possession of control, authority, or influence over others” (Webster, 1972, p. 666). In short, power is effective negotiations, as stated by Dawson (1996):

Learning to improve your negotiating skills is the highest and best use of your time. Consider this: if you make $50,000 a year, that’s about $25.00 per hour. When you’re negotiating the purchase or sale of something, you’re not making $25.00 an hour – you’re making $25.00 a minute, or maybe $25.00 a second! You can’t make money faster than you can when you’re negotiating!

That is power in a nutshell.

Power in negotiations should be considered as nothing more than a game to the negotiator. It is a game played by a set of rules. Once you learn the rules, you are ready to play the game. However, power negotiation takes a different position from the myth of the “win-win” solution. It requires winning at the negotiating table while leaving the other person permanently feeling that he or she has won. He or she will continue to think what a great time he or she had and will look forward to seeing you again (Dawson, 1999).

Having the ability to make the other side feel they have won is very important. In fact, “I would almost give you that as a definition of a Power Negotiator” (Dawson, 1999). A power negotiator comes away from the negotiating table knowing he or she won. They also know they have improved the relationship with the other person.

This negotiating style is essential for building long-term relationships. It is a difficult process that requires persuasion and influence, rather than traditional intimidating or hammering tactics. It involves work, discipline, and commitment. The result is the development of an enhanced relationship. It can be harvested repeatedly as new problems, conflicts and opportunities arise (Sach, 1998).

True power in negotiations requires a different way of thinking. The goal is to satisfy the other party without giving up too much in the process. When a negotiator gives up too quickly during negotiations, it devalues the issue being negotiated. A negotiator must be professional, friendly and shrewd. In simple terms, get the most you can and still make the other side happy (Lorge, 1998).

The Power of Negotiations by Donald L. Caruth and Gail D. Caruth


Copyright ©2013 Donald L. Caruth and Gail D. Caruth
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  March 2013