Where does your ‘umph’ come from when it comes to persuasion and influence? 

Put another way, from where do you derive your power? 

The type of power you’re tapping into can either help or hinder your effectiveness, your reputation for being a fair player, and the quality of your relationships over the years (think referral partners, vendors, employees, supervisors… ). 

It’s not nothing. And it’s worth being intentional about. If you can sway your real-world negotiation simply by bringing in an expert, why wouldn’t you? Or if you can build some commonality by dropping the name of a mutual well-respected associate, why not? 

The trouble is, if you don’t know what you’re doing, things can go horribly awry with stunning speed. You might make yourself sound pompous or uninformed, putting a solid ding in your reputation. You may make extra work for yourself, losing out on the bottom line in the process. 

By the end of this article you’ll have a grasp of the basic types of power that can be employed in a negotiation, and some ideas about when each is (or isn’t) appropriate. 

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Classic negotiation texts reference a few basic types of power: 

  • Reward or Coercive
  • Legitimate
  • Expert
  • Referent
  • Indirect
  • Associative, and
  • Informational

The best type or combination of power will — sorry to say — depend on your specific circumstance and what you need to get done. Perfect practice makes perfect, as they say, and if you’re a Premium Plus member, make sure to take advantage of office hours to practice your skills! 

Let’s take a brief look at what each type of power is, and when it might be best employed.

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