Anyone familiar with old Marvel comics will remember that Spider-Man, in his civilian identity of Peter Parker, often had to negotiate with crusty old Daily Bugle editor Jonah Jameson to get fair prices for the photos he took for the newspaper. Spider-Man’s other superpower must have been negotiation, because nine times out of ten he got what he wanted. Often he chose to simply suggest that he would take his business elsewhere and walk away, leaving the old blowhard floundering before running after him with a big cheque.
This worked because Peter Parker knew how to apply pressure points – he knew that he had something Jameson wanted and was prepared to pay for, and he knew what a powerful tactic walking away is. The impact on Jameson was many-fold: as a newspaper editor he was under time pressure, which added to Peter’s advantage; and as a businessman he knew he couldn’t let Peter sell his photos to a competitor.
Of course, in real life you’re unlikely to get your opponent racing after you begging you not to leave, and you shouldn’t assume they will. But keeping that image in your mind – that you have something they badly want, and you’re not going to give it to them until they give you what you want – that can be a tremendous boon to you in negotiations.
Don’t be a Jameson and be the one running after someone! If you are under time pressure or show someone that you are desperate to make an agreement. If this is recognised by the other party they could make you pay a high price for this.
Which means that, ideally, you need to get yourself those options before negotiations even begin. For example, if you’re buying a car, make sure to have a first choice, second choice and third choice, and keep your second and third choices in mind while negotiating for the first. The seller will be able to tell that you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket, and this makes it harder for them to adjust their sales patter accordingly knowing you could potentially change your mind.
Spider-Man remains an underdog when it comes to fighting supervillains and keeping a girlfriend, but in negotiations he certainly isn’t one. You, too, should take on the superheroic trait of confidence to achieve your goals!