Use Leverage and Influence
Leverage means to use something to maximum advantage. Influence means the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Using your leverage and/or influence in a negotiation means to use the thing you have in the capacity to affect the outcome of the negotiation. We all have leverage and influence that we can use to our advantage. We either have it from our own personal experience or we have it through our connection to someone else.
You might use leverage and influence in a meeting to gain the power position. Or you use your leverage to gain benefits or perks that might make be better for the deal in the long run.
If you are reading this far, you might be thinking “I don’t have any leverage to use” or “what leverage could I possible have? You do have leverage even if you don’t think you do.
I had arrived at my base in New Mexico after a 4 year tour in England. Soon after that I was given a massive aircraft maintenance contract to manage. The former contracts administrator, the Government quality control office, and anyone else that had experience with the company told me, that the project manager of that company was a bully and ate nails for breakfast.
I didn’t hear this from 1 or 2 people, more like 5-10 people! I started to worry how I was going to be perceived the first time I met with him and his staff. I was a Master Sergeant but I am only 5”5” and weighed about 119 pounds at that time. What leverage did I have? I thought and thought about it. Ah ha! I had it! The perfect plan! I threw on my leather jacked with the fringe, hopped on my Harley and rode over to the first meeting.
I strolled into the conference room jacket still on, helmet under my arm and met someone from the company right away. He was about 6’3” and looked down at me and asked if I was the new Contracting Officer. I said yes I was. He saw my helmet and said “oh, I see you have a helmet, do you ride a bicycle?” I smirked and said “no I ride a Harley and rode it over here today, you wanna see it?” He looked stunned and exclaimed “YOU? Ride a Harley?!”
It spread around the room like wildfire. I took my jacket off, put it around the back of the chair, put my helmet on the table and sat down. The look on everyone’s face said it all. I had the power position. They didn’t know what to think! Now after that was established, I got into it with the guy several times, but, it took awhile to get to that point and by then I was well situated in my power as the manager of the contract.
You may not ride a Harley, but you do have some leverage or experience that you can use to leverage or influence your position. Thinking like a negotiator is about thinking differently. It’s stepping out of your normal way of thinking and coming up with ways to make a better deal for yourself both personally and professionally.
Take some time to jot down some of the leverage you have and consider using it in future negotiation situations. Need some support on that? Contact me for a complimentary 30 min coaching session to figure this out.
Keep on Thinking Like A Negotiator!
See you next week!
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired