Rules of Power in Negotiation

The way you act during a negotiation can have a significant impact on the outcome.


Jharna Jagtiani

7 months ago | 2 min read

The way you act during a negotiation can have a significant impact on the outcome.

Power is an overarching theme that guides the choice of a strategic orientation, objective, plan, and negotiation tactics.

A strategic goal would be to assert or demonstrate power. A tactic is the use of a type or a source of power to achieve a strategic goal.

Power can be used to dominate and control the other party in a negotiation. This is commonly referred to as a power-use strategy. Power tactics are sometimes used to change the power balance by increasing the negotiator’s own power or decreasing the power of the other party. This is known as a power tactic in general.

Knowing the following rules of power comes handy when entering into a negotiation:

RULE #1: One side rarely has complete control:

Even the person who goes to a bank to ask for a loan has power — the power to choose which bank to apply to, the power to choose an acceptable interest rate, and the power to choose what to put up as collateral.

RULE #2: Power can be real or perceived: 

It is not always necessary to have the upper hand in a negotiation. What is more important is that the opposing party believes you have power. You have a negotiating position as long as you can convince the other party that you have power. However, don’t abuse your ability to create a sense of power. Unfortunately, this is very common in India. We can’t count the number of times we’ve heard or said something along the lines of “Do you know who my father / grandfather is?” Remember that your strategy will eventually come back to haunt you.

RULE #3: Power only exists to the extent that it is accepted:

It is critical for someone to acknowledge that they have power before they can exercise it. If you refuse to acknowledge someone’s power, they will have no power over you. Of course, this may not work in every situation. It may only work in cases of perceived power, such as emotions or hierarchy.

RULE #4: Power dynamics can shift over time:

If you have power over someone, don’t assume you’ll always have power over them. Power equations are constantly shifting. It is often said that the people you meet on your way up will also meet you on your way down. So be cautious in your actions.

RULE #5: In most relationships, the side with the least commitment has the most power: 

You are in the driver’s seat in the negotiating process if you are negotiating to buy a car from a salesman whose boss has warned him that he needs to start making sales, and you are not committed to buying this particular car from this particular dealer.


Created by

Jharna Jagtiani

Ms. Jharna Jagtiani is an Assistant Professor at IFIM Law School. She is a qualified lawyer and a certified mediator by the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs – GOI. She is a mediator & online dispute resolution consultant. As an independent practitioner, her work involves assisting start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises to set up their internal management and consumer dispute resolution system. In the year 2016, she became the Co-founder of Prerna Foundation – a socio-legal initiative started with an objective to ease access to justice for people at large. She is also a Startup Consultant at Pixilets. Recently, she has been awarded the “Nari Shakti Samman Award” for women's empowerment – by helping women entrepreneurs to start grow and sustain their dream ventures at Jan’ki Conclave and Award 2021 - 2022.







Related Articles