Using The Other Person’s Power

Topics: Deal Stories, Negotiating

Let’s give our opponent every aspect of power.  He’s knowledgeable, motivated, can prove everything he says, is energetic, resourceful, creative, courageous and ethical.  What can we do?  The opposite.  We can be listless, dull, ignorant, unimaginative, unschooled, afraid and fearful, and exhibit a desperate craftiness.  A strange thing then happens.  Our opponent becomes benevolent.  He shows us things about our position and alternatives.  He helps us to understand the scope and advantages of any options we might have.  He helps us to make a better deal.

When he can’t convince of his point of view, he’s prone to adapt it to something else or another position that we can comprehend with a degree of comfort.  Then he does all the work to get the transaction concluded satisfactorily.  You appear to have no power at all, but in actuality, you haven’t abandoned your basis for power at all, you’ve just let him use his to help you.

In one instance, an acquisition class was using the telephone to practice interview techniques.  In one call, the ‘buyer’ used the above technique.  He said, ‘I like the sound of the deal, but I can’t see any way to make money doing it your way.  If you can show me how I can make a profit, I’ll go ahead.  But you’ve got to convince me.’ The seller called back several times with new ideas for the buyer to use.

In another situation, the buyer just kept repeating his price without acknowledging the blandishments and arguments of the seller.  Ten times, 20 times he kept on repeating his offered price.  Finally, the seller just gave up and accepted it.  You see this technique used in many situations by sellers who refuse to acknowledge the buyer’s offers to great advantage.  It but remains for you to use it as a buyer.


Gee, Mr. Seller.  As far as I’m concerned, you’ve got a deal.  But the only problem is that I’ve only been authorized to offer the one deal.  In order to make a different kind of a deal, I’d have to check with my boss, spouse, banker, broker. lawyer, accountant, mentor, astrologer, etc. and he’s going to be out of town all summer.  If you can find a way to accept my original proposal, fine, it’s a done deal.  But if you want to make any other kind of arrangements, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do until I get approval from higher up.

But maybe there’s something else that we could do.  Maybe we could go ahead and close this transaction the way I proposed it, and then, we’ll make a different deal on another property/product/service just between you and me that’s within my range.  Heck, I’d even be interested in buying that boat/car/computer/furniture for myself if that would help make this deal.  Not having the power to close can get you out of tough spots, and also get the seller to take less than he counter-offered.

From Jack Miller’s NEGOTIATIONS seminar manual, now available in Paperback or ANY ebook reader format.

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