Skip to content

Understanding Power Dynamics & The Impact They Have on Fear

By |May 27, 2024

One of the key Laws of Negotiation Gravity™ is that fear of loss is the single biggest driver of human decision making and behavior. When examining power dynamics, it's crucial to consider how fear can derail your negotiation or difficult conversation, sending it into a downward spiral that leads to misunderstandings, destructive conversations, or all out attacks.

Recognizing and addressing this fear is essential for productive communication. Mitigating fear is an important first step: When you allow fear, real or perceived, to remain in the conversation or negotiation you're impeding your counterparts ability to think clearly. The fear is taking up space in their brain which takes away their capacity to hear what you're saying. When you demonstrate an understanding of that fear, they can let it go which frees up that space allowing you to have a productive and open conversation.

Fear as a Driver: If your counterpart sees themselves as the less powerful person in the negotiation, then they may fear the power they assume you will wield over them. When someone perceives our power as a threat to their own goals or desires, they may become triggered even before any interaction takes place. This fear can manifest as destructive behavior, leading them to attempt to undermine or destroy the interaction. It's crucial to approach this situation with empathy and to recognize that their actions may not be a deliberate attempt to harm us but rather a response to their own insecurities and fears.

The Power of Curiosity

 When faced with someone who perceives us as having all the power, it's essential to take a step back and remain curious. Instead of reacting impulsively, we should consider the situation from their perspective. Use level 3 listening to understand why they feel or think the way they do and where it may be coming from. This will help you understand the thoughts, feelings, and motivations behind their actions. By doing so, you will open yourself up to a deeper understanding of the situation and the person involved.

Remove Yourself as a Threat: To prevent destructive conversations and interactions, we must first remove ourselves as a perceived threat. The most effective way to do this is by using Tactical Empathy™ to acknowledge their perspective and validate their power imbalance concerns. In doing this we can lower the chances of misunderstandings and diminish the fear they may harbor towards us. This approach not only reduces the likelihood of destructive behavior but also leads to more innovative solutions and stronger relationships.

Dealing With Power on the Other Side

 If your counterpart perceives themselves as being in a position of power, then their greatest fear may be losing that power. Tactical Empathy™ is extremely effective when dealing with someone in that position. The first thing you should do is acknowledge the fear. You can do this with an Accusation Audit at the beginning of your interaction: "You may be worried I'll try to undermine you" or "This may feel like I'm making a power play." 

Throughout your interaction, allow them to maintain the illusion of power and control while you use the Quick 2+1™ to gather information and find Black Swans. Letting them stay in the power mindset keeps them in a more positive state of mind which keeps them from putting up walls throughout the conversation. As long as you respond to them and don't react to their power assertion you won't be feeding the beast in a negative manner. Knocking the other side down a peg to 'even the playing field' or make yourself feel better or more powerful isn't necessary and will hinder any attempts to build rapport and gain a trust-based influence. 

To foster collaboration and build trust, consider using the The Black Swan Method™. The Black Swan Method™ is a powerful tool for building rapport and fostering collaboration. It involves acknowledging the other person's viewpoint, even if we disagree with it, and expressing a genuine desire to understand their perspective. By doing so, we create an atmosphere of openness and trust, which can lead to more productive conversations and better outcomes for all involved.

The Benefits of Collaboration

When we approach potentially destructive situations with curiosity, empathy, and a willingness to collaborate, we open the door to more positive interactions. Using Tactical Empathy™ to demonstrate an understanding of the negative thoughts and feelings of the other side lowers the chances of misunderstandings and reduces the fear that may be harbored by them. By addressing fear and fostering collaboration, we can keep destructive conversations at bay and allow for a collaborative interaction that will lead to better outcomes for all involved.