You can enhance your power in a negotiation by using a variety of skills and behaviors to improve the relationship. Again, how you negotiate is as important as what you negotiate. A skillful and flexible negotiator can often overcome other power disadvantages. If you can present a proposal or currency in several ways, or in a unique way, you can change the value of that currency in the other’s eyes. It is not only having the currency that is important, but also positioning it so that the other side will appreciate and value it. Chapter 11 explores this further in the section on the value proposition.
Positioning a Currency to Show Value
A full-service compensation and benefits consulting firm was negotiating a contract with a large financial services client to revamp their employee benefits plan nationwide. The client balked at one line item with a high price tag—the $50,000 communications package. This item included brochures, videotapes, presentations, and other media to communicate the changes to the employees about the company’s new benefits plan. Normally, the consultant would react by defending the price or making a modest concession. However, the consultant took a different approach. By asking the right questions, the consultant discovered that the last time a change like this occurred, the company’s human resources staff had to dedicate three months to the effort. By further probing, the consultant discovered that the presentations ...