Gaining Leverage in Negotiations

Another way to gain leverage is to find policies and procedures that add credibility and legitimacy to your position.

The British Prime Minister Gladstone said, “Good laws make it easier to do right.” The power of standard terms, policies, procedures, rules and regulations is profound. There isn’t a person I know who hasn’t at one time or another succumbed to the phrase, “We can’t change the rules” or “That’s against company policy.”

If you want the other party to look favorably at your position, find a good rule or regulation to support it. When Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments, they weren’t just ideas in his head. They were engraved in stone. Who was going to negotiate a change when every word was chiseled in granite and blessed at the highest level of authority?

Since we cannot publish price lists in stone, printed lists will have to serve instead. Published price lists, printed discount sheets, advertisements in a trade magazine or a fancy color catalog carry weight to the bargaining table. They are far stronger than telephone conversations, chalk on blackboard, or words in a presentation.

Like Moses with the Ten Commandments, a negotiator backed by precedent or habit becomes a more persuasive bargainer.

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