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  • Alessandra Corrêa

How to increase our power in a negotiation.*

Atualizado: 7 de jul. de 2023

In negotiation, there are three types of power. The power of position, which is an implicit power to a specific position or titles and the influence that the person who occupies them has on the course of conversations and negotiations. This form of power is static, that is, there is not much we can do about it, after all, we cannot stop talking and negotiating with our hierarchical superiors and authorities, right?

Psychological power is another type of power. It's the way you feel. If you perceive yourself as having power at that time, this perception greatly influences your behavior, your posture, your resourcefulness and, consequently, your results. Learning to deal with stress, control anxiety, and stay in the present moment while paying attention to what the other person is saying are all ways to increase your psychological power.

Your BATNA is the third and most important form of power in a negotiation. The acronym BATNA stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. She is your backup plan.

In a negotiation, whoever has the best BATNA has a lot of power; in most cases, the BATNA is the best and most powerful source of power. It is critical that we develop a good BATNA during our preparation for the negotiation and that we continue to work on and improve our BATNA even after the negotiations begin.

The BATNA is one of the most effective negotiating tools. It provides us with security, reduces stress and anxiety at the negotiating table, and assists us in deciding whether or not to accept a proposal. We can't start negotiating without it.

We can strengthen two of the three negotiating powers: psychological and BATNA.

The Harvard team provides a practical and easy tip to improve our psychological power in a Program on Negotiation article. They claim that when we recall a situation in which we had power, the feeling of power returns. As a result, doing an exercise to visualize a situation before sitting down at the negotiation table can be extremely beneficial.

Another crucial aspect of psychological power is the well-known mindfulness. The more we pay attention to what is being communicated and what is going on both at the negotiating table and within ourselves, the more power we will have. The greater our ability to control the space between the stimulus and our response, the more power we will feel and transmit to the other party.

In a negotiation, BATNA is critical. It is naive to believe that we can achieve good results if we do not know what to do if the negotiation fails. The BATNA is a criterion for determining whether a proposal is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable.

How do you create a good BATNA? First, we must list all of our options. For example, if we are negotiating the sale of an apartment, we can list the following options as alternatives: look for another buyer, list it on AirBnB, list it in a real estate agency to attract other interested parties, rent it, leave it closed while the market improves... In any case, there are several options.

From this list, we must select the alternative that we believe is best for our situation, consider the steps required for this plan to be implemented, and in fact, fulfill at least some of them so that we do not have to start from scratch if we do not reach a good deal.

It is critical to emphasize the risk of stopping at the first stage of creation in BATNA: the list. Knowing that there are several alternatives can give us the impression that the game is won, that we have simple alternatives to choose from. We don't have a good basis for comparing a proposed agreement to our "plan B" without a concrete BATNA.

Preparation is essential in any negotiation. Emotional preparation and BATNA development are essential components of good preparation and factors that significantly increase our chances of success.

By Alessandra P G Corrêa

*The text was first published in Portuguese on the Head Energy blog.

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