Have you ever employed the initial appearance of weakness as a tactic in a negotiation? It can be a great way to gather valuable information. When the other negotiator sees you in a weakened position, that's the time when you can turn your perceived weakness into a source of power. Observe the following to do so.
The Opening - setting the stage:
To set yourself up to be perceived as weak, consider the following strategies.
- At the opening of the negotiation, offer a weak handshake; this positioning is enhanced by allowing your hand to be on the bottom of the handshake (i.e. the other negotiator's hand on top of yours). That will subliminally signal subjugation on your part.
- Project a sense of slowness to grasp points. Don't overplay your hand. Remember, you're playing the role of someone that's not sure of himself.
- Allow yourself to be maneuvered by making concessions quickly when doing so is not detrimental to your position.
- Refer to having to consult a higher authority when pushed too hard for a concession; that'll convey a sense of powerlessness.
- While engaging in the processes above, seek to uncover the other negotiator's source(s) of power. You can use that as leverage against him later in the negotiation.
Mid Game - the turn:
This is the point at which your demeanor transformation begins.
- Know the strength of your resources compared to your opponent. That will be your source of power. It can be used as leverage during the negotiation to thwart his efforts.
- During the negotiation, be prepared to refer to a higher authority that trumpets the other negotiator (e.g. him - we reached a multimillion-dollar deal with company x last year, you - we know that and they're talking with us this year; I guess they didn't like the results of your deal.)
- Create a false sense of value with red herrings as chits that you can trade later for items and concessions of importance.
End Game - the closing:
This is the time you employ tactics that display, you're no longer a weakling.
- Begin to use the red herrings you set up in the prior phase to enhance your negotiation position. Be stubbornly diligent when making concessions at this point. Your efforts should send a subliminal message that indicates, you're going to be a tough negotiator from this point on.
- Once you've engaged in the strategies above, be cautious. You will have transformed yourself from the weakling you initially appeared to be into a titan. The other negotiator will realize that he's dealing with someone that's more astute than he originally thought. That will cause him to raise his guard. He'll also be seeking ways to adjust his negotiation strategies to match his new reality.
The timeframe and phases mentioned above still have to be accompanied with the negotiation strategies that are appropriate for the type of negotiation you're in. Thus, the outline above should serve as a foundation to which you can add more specifics steps to fit your situation. By using this outline, you'll be well on your way to creating a roadmap that leads to more successful negotiation outcomes... and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you're always negotiating!