The 6 Sources Of Power In Any Negotiation

By Bradley Chowles October 15, 2019 | 3 min read

Power can mean very different things to different people. To a dictator, for instance, it means having absolute control over the lives of their people; to a musician, it’s commanding the emotions of their audience. One thing that all types of power have in common, however, is influence. That’s why every negotiation is, at its core, all about the power dynamic between the two parties. Each side of the aisle is trying to influence the other to act in a way that best serves their self-interests.

At RED BEAR, we have a relatively straightforward understanding of what power is in the context of a negotiation: the ability to favorably influence the outcome by analyzing, assessing, and managing all the factors that affect power.

This means that, in order to exert power effectively, it’s essential to understand all of the different facets of the negotiation process that yield that power.

Let’s explore the six sources of power present in every negotiation.

1. Situational Power

This is your most obvious source of power: the situational elements that are in your favor and that you can use to your advantage. In a negotiation, this includes things like knowing the other party has a deadline, knowing their superior wants to use your product, or knowing their alternative isn’t very appealing. As you can tell, the key here is knowing the situation as well as possible, so be sure to remember the Negotiation Principle: Manage Information Skillfully!

2. Knowledge of the Other Party

The more you know about the person you’re dealing with as an individual — their personality, their motivation, their key drivers — the more you’ll be able to customize your approach and tactics to make a more powerful case.

3. Informational Power

As mentioned above, knowledge is power. Strengthen your position as much as possible with internet research – and consider reaching out to your network for potential insight into the prospective customer or supplier.

4. Organizational Power

Organizational power stems from your position in your organization, as well as the weight or reputation carried by your brand. Note that this can actually work against you in big organizations, as you’ll be considerably more aware of your weaknesses.

5. Personal Power

Who you are as a person can be a great source of power, so it’s always worth investing the time and energy into developing character traits like persistence, tenacity, confidence, and comfort with tension.

6. Planning Power

The last source of power is your planning. Even ten minutes of well-organized planning will compliment your negotiation skills and increase your power going into the discussion. When planning, make sure to consider things like the agenda, the room setup, and the other party’s alternative solutions.

By considering the range and strength of these powers before entering a negotiation, you’re far more likely to walk away with a favorable outcome.


RED BEAR Negotiation Company is a global performance improvement firm dedicated to maximizing the profitability of the agreements negotiated with suppliers, customers, partners, and colleagues. If you’re interested in enhancing the performance of the negotiators in your organization, click here for more information on RED BEAR’s solutions.


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