Power. We’re conditioned to crave it. To worship at its altar. From the corporate world to politics to high finance and even personal or schoolyard dynamics, everyone seems to seek it. It’s no wonder, given that our entertainment industry promotes antiheroes as our new protagonists. We casually cheer on leads of dubious moral character who lust for power at any cost.
Yet, what is power? How do we get it? How do we use it effectively?
Too little thought is given to these questions today. Have we bought into a misguided sense of what it means to have, hold, or exert power? I’d like to reframe power, so you can come to the bargaining table to increase your power in more elegant and constructive ways.
The Power of ‘With’
We’ve been taught to see power as power over others versus power with others. In fact, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines power as “possession of control, authority, or influence over others”—as if we own control over others. It’s an important distinction to make.
When we exert power over others, we miss valuable opportunities to find creative solutions that benefit everyone. When we seek instead to find power with others, looking to understand and meet their needs, we secure better outcomes, faster buy-in, stronger relationships, and longer-lasting agreements.
Finding power with others is an inherently feminine skill, along with other negotiation-savvy female traits, including rapport-building, empathy, flexibility, intuitiveness, and trustworthiness. Still, men and women alike can learn to rethink their approach to power.
Here are seven positive power levers, from The Art of Feminine Negotiation, you can bring to the table for better outcomes in your next negotiation:
- Power of Purpose
When you tap into your innate gifts and use them for their intended purposes, you wield tremendous personal power and the ability to effect profound change in the world.
Always ground yourself in a sense of your deeper purpose and show up from that place in your negotiations—especially at work. A Harvard Business Review study showed that companies with a clear, defined purpose performed better and experienced higher growth.
- Power of Collaboration
Recognizing the power of collaboration opens you and your negotiating counterpart to better outcomes than you would have achieved independently. The power of multiple brains working together, firing ideas off each other, and inspiring each other to reach new heights is a tremendous advantage in finding the best outcomes.
- Power of Service
Much power comes from a service mindset. When you release your ego and seek to serve others, it changes how you show up and the dynamic of your negotiations. Ironically, when you approach your negotiations (and life) from a place of service to others, you’re likely to get more for yourself.
- Power of Proximity
Tap into the power of proximity and curate your “inner circle.” Surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you to step into a more powerful version of yourself.
Likewise, cull those in your life who sabotage your confidence, create drama, or otherwise drag you down. Our best outcomes depend partly on the people we choose to connect with.
- Psychological Power
Your mindset can give you power or take it away. Do you seek your sense of value externally or own it internally? Seeking external validation gives away your power. Practice unconditional self-love so you can show up in any negotiation from a place of unshakable personal power.
Do you come from a scarcity mindset, seeing a fixed pie that you need to get your piece of, or an abundance mindset, knowing you can make the pie as big as it’s needed for everyone? Abundance mindsets give you power.
- Power of High Aspirations and Expectations
Studies suggest that those who set high aspirations get better negotiated outcomes. Be intentional about setting high goals and anchoring high. You must also do the necessary inner work to believe in your ability to achieve those outcomes. The law of attraction suggests that genuinely expecting better outcomes will attract those results in the same way that believing you can’t secure your desired outcome will tank your effectiveness.
- Role Power
You can bring more (or less) power to a negotiation depending on the role you take on. We mistakenly assume that “higher” titles will wield more power. But this isn’t always true.
For example, a CEO might get more out of a negotiation from a staff member showing up as a caring team member than the CEO would waving their flag of authority. The same applies to your own business and personal relationships. Be intentional about the role you “wear” in each negotiation. Choose a role that will secure the best outcome.
The Power of Being Intentional
If you haven’t been intentional about how to get or use power in your negotiations, don’t fret. It’s never too late to redefine power to use it more effectively. These simple reframes will afford you the opportunity to think about power differently and, in so doing, to show up as the most powerful version of yourself in your next negotiation.
Written by Cindy Watson.
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