Coaching Case Study #6 – Power Play
Sarah avoided having to meet with the IT director. Like many times in the past, she knew it would turn into a “grab all” discussion with Casey taking the best of what was available.
Negotiating with Casey for her team’s IT support hasn’t been easy. The upcoming meeting between the two women is a third in a series of tough negotiations where each one resulted in a stalemate. Sarah still needs to convince Casey that supporting her “under the radar” product would be in all their best interests.
Sarah’s nervous stomach is already warning her of the impending challenge ahead. Tripping over her words and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time has allowed Casey to turn Sarah’s words against her.
Sarah decides to focus on the following four areas in preparation for, what she hopes, is her final negotiations meeting with Casey.
- Aim for a win-win environment, avoid a win-lose outcome
- Create a level negotiations playing field at the outset
- Negotiate for influence with an aggressive style
- Positioning with a Power Grabber
Dealing with a Power Play Situation
- Avoid going into a power play situation without having a solid negotiations plan.
- Aggressive negotiators will often play their "emotional hand" early in negotiations – use this to your advantage instead of allowing their behavior to intimidate you.
- Leveling the playing field in a power situation is to know your Differentiator Factor, e.g., what unique value do you bring to the negotiations table.
- "Listen between the lines" to what your counterpart may not be saying but your research suggests that s/he should, e.g., verify your research with reality.
- Power Grabbers will go after what they perceive to have the most value and not necessarily everything on the plate. Ensure that your plan includes a mix of both vegetables and dessert.
Sarah’s primary lesson is realizing that past unsuccessful attempts at negotiations has been due to a lack of preparation. Her typical behavior is to go into meetings unprepared for “informal” negotiations and immediately find herself at a disadvantage.
She discovered that her perception of others having more power was not always about titles, turf, or territory. Sarah’s nervousness causes her to feel powerless, giving away too much, too early during negotiations in an effort to get the whole thing over with – fast.
Sarah is now more aware of what it takes to prepare for negotiations both in advance and "on the fly" with little time to prepare. She is well on her way to becoming a confident and accomplished negotiator with her own natural negotiating style!
© 2006 DA McCrorey