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Victoria Pynchon

As the co-founder of She Negotiates Consulting and Training, I offer my services as a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant....

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She Negotiates

She Negotiates

The 33 cent wage and income gap is unacceptable and unnecessary. So is the cliché glass ceiling. Bottom line, our...

Are You Negotiating From a Position of Weakness or From a Position of Power?

1. “Think powerful”
Job candidates are rarely in a position of power as interviewers decide the fate of their future career prospects. Yet, the winning strategy in these situations is thinking that one has power, in spite of the situation. As a candidate, how can you engineer a powerful mindset? Well, a simple trick is to remind yourself about a time you had power over a situation right before an interview, and invoke the precise feelings associated with that memory – feelings of confidence and competence, as well as decisiveness during decision making.
One of my recent research projects, Power gets the job: Priming power improves interview outcomes co-authored with Joris Lammers (University of Cologne), Derek D. Rucker (Northwestern University) and Adam Galinsky (Columbia University) tested just that idea: as part of a session of individual mock interviews, we assigned business school applicants to one of three conditions. In the first condition, applicants wrote a short essay about a time they had power just before entering an interview. In the second condition, applicants also wrote an essay, but this time about a time they lacked power. Finally, the last group did not write anything.
Then, we asked interviewers the likelihood that they would accept the candidate into a business school. When candidates went straight to the interview, interviewers accepted 47.1 percent of the candidates. However, the admission rate went up to 68 percent for those people in the group who wrote an essay about a time they had power, and fell to a low 26 percent for those who wrote an essay about a time they lacked power. Importantly, interviewers were unaware of the power manipulation we had given candidates. Thus, merely recalling an experience of high power increased candidates’ likelihood to be admitted by 81 percent compared to baseline and by 162 percent compared to those who recalled an experience of powerlessness.
Of course, there are other ways to engineer personal feelings of power. For instance, candidates can wear objects that make them feel powerful, such as a watch or a particular bag - anything that links you with feelings of power.
2. “Behave powerful”
Power is not only a mindset; it is also a behaviour. Small, almost unconscious moves signal power to an audience and can significantly change the outcome of an interview. In her recent TED talk, Amy Cuddy (Harvard University) provides an excellent summary of how non-verbal language can have a profound effect on how people are judged in contexts as varied as hiring or promotion interviews, a sales context or even a date. As such, physical poses such as wrapping legs, hunching or relying on one’s arms are many subtle signals of powerlessness that cast doubt on what candidates say, regardless of the content of the conversation.
The Virtuous Circle of Power
Interestingly, adopting “power poses” does not only affect how interviewers judge candidates, but also ironically reinforces candidates’ feelings of power. In recent research, Li Huang from INSEAD and colleagues had participants take powerful (for example, expansive postures) or powerless (constricted postures) poses and found the former behaved more powerfully than the latter, by taking action more often and thinking more abstractly, two well-known consequences of power. So, behaving in a powerful way is not only important for how interviewers perceive candidates, it is also a key driver of how candidates will behave!
Read more: http://forbesindia.com/article/insead/power-boosters-how-to-land-that-job-when-you-think-you-cant/35149/1#ixzz2VAQEbLlt

No matter where I go to teach negotiation strategies and tactics, people tell me they feel as if they're bargaining from a position of weakness. You'd think the lawyers at Intel, Qwest Communications, Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures Entertainment or the engineers and managers at Kraft Foods, all of whose people I've trained, would drape themselves in the power of their corporate brand.

Not so. More than 80% raise their hands when I ask them whether they're negotiating from a position of weakness.

That, I suppose, is because I haven't trained those companies' CEO's, GCs or Boards of Directors. But even then I'll bet I could flip a coin on their answer to the question. The Boards of Directors, after all, have to answer to shareholders and federal governmental agencies. CEOs must answer to their Boards and GCs to the CEO. Sometimes all of them feel intimidated by the lady in HR because Human Resources is the hot nuclear core of conflict in the organization.

What, then, can we do to increase others' perceptions that we have power, a perception that is more than half of our bargaining strength.

Over at Forbes today, we read about some powerful research done by several hot shot academics, including Adam Galinsky whose work I've featured at The Daily Muse and ForbesWoman.

 

How to Have a Power Mindset

First, the importance of a power mind-set in any negotiation (which includes fee setting and product pricing).

Ready? Here it is.

The person with the greatest bargaining power is the person perceived to be most able to walk away from any deal.

When recently asked by a new client how one appears to have bargaining power, I answered with a story.

I once mediated a medical malpractice case that didn't settle. The physician, who was in his fifties, looked as if he'd had the weight of the world on his shoulders. His face was lined, his countenance dour. He was angrier than any defendant I'd ever met and that's saying something after a 25-year litigation and trial practice. I was concerned about his fate, as I am about all my mediation clients. On his way out the door I said, "you know, when you're angry, you look pretty scary and I'd be worried about how the jury will respond to you."

"How," he asked, "can I look less angry?"

"Only by being less angry," I responded kindly. "The jury is the intestinal track of the justice system. They make decisions with their collective gut and if they don't like you, you're likely to suffer at their hands no matter how great your case is."

That advice - to be the person you want to convey to others- was based on hard-earned experience on the ground. Galinksy and friends have now confirmed that experience in their research. 

Their first recommendation for job hunters who want to appear powerful is to "think powerful."

Job candidates are rarely in a position of power as interviewers decide the fate of their future career prospects. Yet, the winning strategy in these situations is thinking that one has power, in spite of the situation. As a candidate, how can you engineer a powerful mindset? Well, a simple trick is to remind yourself about a time you had power over a situation right before an interview, and invoke the precise feelings associated with that memory – feelings of confidence and competence, as well as decisiveness during decision making.

The supporting research divided business school applicants participating in a mock job interview into three groups - the first told to write an essay about a time they felt powerful, a second about a time they lacked power and the third to write nothing at all.  

The interviewers, who didn't know about the writing assignments, were asked to rate the candidates as likely or unlikely admittees to a business school program. Here are the results:

When candidates went straight to the interview, interviewers accepted 47.1 percent of the candidates. However, the admission rate went up to 68 percent for those people in the group who wrote an essay about a time they had power, and fell to a low 26 percent for those who wrote an essay about a time they lacked power.

Thus, merely recalling an experience of high power increased candidates’ likelihood to be admitted by 81 percent.  

The trick? Recall a position in which you've been powerful in any situation immediately before you negotiate a deal, bargain for a pair of sunglasses on the Venice boardwalk or interview for a job.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the second and third means to increase your power and improve your chances to close any deal you want to.

Comments (3)

Read through and enter the discussion by using the form at the end
Lynn Seeling - June 4, 2013 12:48 PM

I have a theater background. Although I am not an actor, I approach job interviews as though I were cast as the very best me. I don my costume, put on my make-up, run through my lines, shake off my fear and then - it's curtains up! I go into the spotlight. Somehow, it relaxes me and turns the interview into an improvised conversation in which my only motivation is to deliver my key message. Since the topic is something with which I've very familiar - it's a breeze!

Victoria Pynchon - June 4, 2013 6:33 PM

I love this comment, Lynn. We "fake it until we make it." I don't have a theater background but when I was in law school and facing the specter of making court appearances, I took acting classes. It really helped me feel comfortable playing the role of an attorney when in fact I was BEING an attorney in Court for the first year or so. I even remember saying to myself sitting at counsel table before my turn, "I'm an attorney; I'm a lawyer."

Sprecheragentur - January 10, 2014 12:40 AM

Very interesting. Keep on working. Thanks

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