Bargaining power is a key factor in determining negotiation outcome. There are more than ten ways to build bargaining power in any negotiation. We will examine five of them here.

1)      Set the stage for a “yes” answer. Bring good things to eat and drink. Find personal areas of mutual interest to talk about like sports, films, or family affairs. Make things comfortable. Break bread together.

2)      Take notes about what is said and agreed to. Your notes have the power of legitimacy if the other side wants to renege on a prior concession. It’s amazing how often people forget what was said yesterday.

3)      To be successful, learn to dress two or three levels higher than you are. On the other hand, if you want to show you don’t have much money for negotiating purposes, dress that way. You can always dress up on the weekend.

4)      Shut up. Don’t tell the other party anything that will raise their expectations or show them how badly you need them. If someone attends the negotiation with you, spend a few minutes coaching them on the value of keeping quiet.

5)      Be ready to walk away from a negotiation and walk back again as many times as it takes. Negotiators who are prepared and willing to do this have the best chance of discovering what the other party’s bottom line really is.

You have more power than you think. Using these tips will help shift the balance of power in your favor. Power, to a great extent, is what we make it and how we take it.

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