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Negotiate anything: 3 ‘power’ moves

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Your phone calls go unanswered. The meeting you want keeps being postponed.

When the other side — whether it be a vendor, a colleague or the boss — sees no advantage to negotiating or following up with you, the person may stall, says negotiation expert Deborah M. Kolb, co-author of Her Place at the Table (Jossey-Bass).

Kolb’s solution? Power moves.

“Power moves bring reluctant parties to the table,” says Kolb, “by convincing them that they must negotiate: that they will be better off if they do and worse off if they don’t.”

Three basic power moves from Kolb:

1. Offer incentives. “The benefits to negotiating must be visible — that is, right there on the table — and they must resonate with the other party’s needs,” she says. Make it clear to the vendor, for instance, what the advantages are to dealing with you.

2. Raise the costs of not negotiating. “Sometimes, the other party may feel that ducking the issue seems the easiest course,” says Kolb. “They need a push. You accomplish this by making the status quo less attractive.”

Example: If you’ve started negotiating with a vendor, but he’s dragging his feet on an agreement, point out that you have a crowded calendar next month or that a delayed decision could change your available budget.

3. Enlist support to establish your credibility and to back you up. If your boss’s voice is important to the other party, for example, ask him or her to e-mail a hard-to-reach person on your behalf. A quick note like this will prime the pump: “My assistant, Alex, is giving you a ring today. Hope you two can work out an arrangement.”


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