A Primer on Negotiating
If you think you have power, you have it. If you don’t think you have power, even if you have it, you don’t have it.
—Herb Cohen, negotiating expert
Negotiation is all about power. Like Herb Cohen said, power is strictly about thought. To partially rephrase his quote, even if you don’t have it, but think you do, you have it.
And hence whoever has the power in a negotiation will win. Every time. The key, however, is showing up as powerful—having it before the negotiation even begins—and then the hard part, keeping it through to the very end.
A great example of keeping power from history is of Ronald Reagan’s famous, or infamous, walkout on his summit with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev.
Reagan showed up powerfully; in fact he didn’t wear an overcoat, but just a suit, in the subzero temperatures, leaving the Soviet people watching on television thinking, “Who is this man?”
But it’s how he kept his power that’s remarkable. It turns out that Gorbachev failed to keep some promises he’d made at the previous summit.
What did Reagan do in response? He famously stood up, jabbed Gorbachev in the chest with a finger while saying, “You lied,” then walked out altogether.
Summit ended. Game over.
The Soviet Union fell shortly thereafter. They simply didn’t bring as much power to the table as Reagan did, couldn’t match his power at the negotiating table, and therefore they lost. ...