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The Power of Understanding

Increasing Negotiation and Leadership Performance through the Power of Understanding


Laws of Power 1: Start Where You Are

By Karen S. Walch, Ph.D.

As an educator and student of negotiation, I have observed that if you want to increase your power, increase your insight about yourself. One assumption from the classics that prevails yet today is that everyone wants more power. We all want to increase our power because it is human nature to do so.

Power and negotiation are what validate our identity in the world. Power is a means to get what we want directly and specifically by working through others, both personally and professionally. Power is a positive, invigorating and necessary negotiation resource utilized across social, political and cultural boundaries.

Wherever you are is the entry point to unlocking your sources of power which are social, psychological, intellectual, economic and political.

Law 1 Exercise

A. Calculate what you think are your current and desired power sources, including economic, social, political, legal, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual.

B. Describe how you behave with others as a result of what you think about the level of power and leverage you possess today.

C. Assess what you feel about your current leverage and sources of power and how you feel about the way you behave in a negotiation situation as a result.

D. Write down anything and everything that crosses your mind. Be adventurous, anxious, frustrated and honest about your assumptions, beliefs and emotions about power.

E. When you have finished, observe for the next week any situations of powerlessness that arise for you and or any new-found sources of power that you had previously not recognized.

F. Remember that negotiation is fundamental to living, and powerlessness specifically undermines vitality.

As you become conscious about your own beliefs, feelings and assumptions about power, you can communicate more precisely about what you need. Power is found in the clarity of detail!

48 Laws for 21st Century Global Negotiators: Join Thunderbird Professor Karen S. Walch, Ph.D., as she explores the laws of power for 21st century global negotiators. Each Monday she discusses one law and provides an exercise to identify and enhance individual negotiation power. Go to the main menu for the series.