Ways Being A Boss Can Hinder Your Negotiations

Acting like a boss during a negotiation can prevent you from getting a deal
Acting like a boss during a negotiation can prevent you from getting a deal Image Credit: Dan Perl

What would you say that your management style is? It’s fair to say that we all have different styles and each one of them comes with a set of advantages and disadvantage. If it turns out that your management style is authoritarian then you may run into some problems when you go to negotiate. Your management style serves you well in the office. You know what you want, you clearly communicate it to people, and they do what you have asked them to do. Life is pretty simple. However, in a negotiation things are not going to go that way and so you are going to have to find out what kind of adjustments you are going to have to make in order to be successful.

What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Negotiators who favor more of an authoritarian leadership style, also known as an autocratic leadership style, tend to believe their approach to management is more efficient and decisive than a more collaborative leadership style. However, because a top-down approach can heighten the power differential between negotiators and those who report to them, it often backfires, generating resentment and ill will among other members of the negotiating team. In particular, highlighting the role of leadership in negotiation, an authoritarian leadership style may cause negotiators to miss out on opportunities to reach mutually beneficial agreements, both inside their organization and beyond. Lack of communication is a hallmark of an authoritarian leadership style. This frequently backfires on negotiators, as team members often resist complying with orders they don’t understand or support.

A top-down, or authoritarian, leadership style is often carried out in a fully professional manner by a negotiator. But at times, we need to be careful because an authoritarian leadership style can cross the line into unfair and even abusive behavior. Notably, an authoritarian leadership style is often at odds with best practices for negotiation. You need to consider that those who favor an authoritarian style tend to be powerful leaders negotiating with less powerful parties. In their approach to negotiation, the powerful negotiators often veer toward asserting their will—and make the following mistakes.

Mistakes Made By Authoritarian Negotiators

One of the things that authoritarian negotiators do is that they tend to underestimate those with less power. Powerful negotiators can tend to discount the power of less powerful players. Overly self-confident perceptions of themselves can lead powerful negotiators to offer fewer concessions than are needed to get a deal. They may also treat others with less respect and recognition than they may deserve. The result of all of this? The negotiations may reach an Impasse, suboptimal deals may be reached, or there may even be retaliation by the less powerful.

Authoritarian negotiators may show up at a negotiation less prepared. We all know that the key to negotiation success is preparation. However, powerful negotiators often tend to undervalue the need to thoroughly prepare to negotiate. Those with power are more likely to fall back on their cognitive shortcuts when processing information. This can lead them to ignore the other side’s interests and pass up opportunities to create value for both sides. The powerful negotiators may also end up being out-strategized by counterparts who spent more time preparing to negotiate.

Authoritarian negotiators can fail to anticipate a backlash. Power that one negotiator has can trigger resentment, jealousy, and competitiveness in those with less power. As a result, the other side with less power are likely to approach negotiations more aggressively than they would negotiations with less powerful parties. But powerful negotiators are often unaware that they tend to inspire animosity. In fact, the more powerful people are, the more trustworthy they expect the other side to be. Yet those with an authoritarian leadership style are unlikely to take the time needed to build trust with the other side. As a result, they could find that the other side is less trustworthy than they expected them to be.

What All Of This Means For You

What we need to realize is that for these reasons and others, an authoritarian leadership style is typically antithetical to effective negotiation. Generally, negotiators will benefit from taking a more collaborative approach to negotiation. This can include taking time to build trusting relationships, preparing thoroughly for negotiation, and never underestimating the other side. In addition, it means approaching negotiation with humility is key. We need to understand that everyone has something to contribute and that power can be measured in different ways.

By shifting their stance toward collaboration and cooperation, powerful negotiators will not only set themselves up to construct win-win agreements but also embody more effective leadership. This can lead to getting better deals. In the end, that’s what we all want to be able to do.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If you have an authoritarian style of negotiating, do you think that it is possible to change it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As though negotiating wasn’t tough enough, now we have to deal with yet another challenge: the millennials. It is entirely possible that one more thing that may be standing between you and the deal that you want to reach with the other side is a generational barrier. We’ve been taught how to deal with the other side when they don’t see things the way that we do; however, what do we have to do if they see a lot of things differently than we do? What we need to do is to come up with a plan to deal with this type of negotiating partner.