In the Facebook world, status is what you are doing right now. In negotiations, status is your position or rank in relation to the other party. Many times your job title confers your status: are you the vice president or a director? An account executive or an account manager?
People tend to separate themselves according to status. An entry-level person in the company may shy away from talking to the company’s president because a higher status can be intimidating.
In business negotiations you need to remember that status is not equivalent to power. A vice president may indeed sit across the table from an account manager and have no clear power advantage.
The problem with uneven status is with the feelings that are engendered in the people involved. Because in business hierarchy matters, people with a lower status FEEL uncomfortable with someone of higher status.
Dr. Chester L. Karrass writes about status in his book Give and Take:
“Status differences affect the way people act and make decisions. Status is part of the process that makes the deal and part of the deal itself.”
“My advice to those who face people of higher status is to take them on….The better you prepare, the more knowledgeable you are, the less status matters. Don’t be intimidated. Just work harder.”
Status is real and some people are higher on the feeding chain than others, but that does not mean they have more power in a negotiation. A higher status does not mean the other party will automatically get his or her goals accomplished in a negotiation. Both sides will have to work it out, regardless of who has a better title.
Lao Tzu, the philosopher and founder of Taoism, said about status:
“Pride attaches undue importance to the superiority of one’s status in the eyes of others; And shame is fear of humiliation at one’s inferior status in the estimation of others. When one sets his heart on being highly esteemed, and achieves such rating, then he is automatically involved in fear of losing his status.”
How do you deal with status differences? Are you intimidated when the person across the table has a better title than yours?