Negotiation Tips

Protecting Leverage in Negotiations: The Key to Achieving Your Goals

by Erich Rifenburgh

The Power of Leverage and different ways to use it in your Negotiation Strategy

Protecting Leverage in Negotiations: The Key to Achieving Your Goals

Negotiations are a ubiquitous and essential part of our personal and professional lives. Your ability to navigate negotiations effectively using different negotiation strategies can significantly impact the result. One such negotiation strategy is leverage, which can be defined as the advantage, or power, you hold in a negotiation. Protecting your leverage is a critical aspect of negotiation strategy, as it can make the difference between achieving your goals and conceding to unfavorable terms. In this blog, we will delve deep into the concept of leverage, explore strategies for safeguarding it, and provide practical tips to help you protect and strengthen your position in negotiations.

Understanding Leverage in Negotiations

Leverage is the fulcrum on which successful negotiations pivot. It represents the power, influence, and advantages that one party has over another in a negotiation. This negotiation strategy can take various forms, including:

1. Information Leverage: This means having access to valuable  information that the other party does not possess. 

2. Resource Leverage: Controlling essential resources, such as capital, technology, or physical assets, that are important and relevant to the negotiation.

3. Time Leverage: Having power over the timeline or deadlines of the negotiation, which can put pressure on the other party.

4. Alternative Options Leverage: This includes possessing any viable alternative options just in case the current negotiation fails, thus reducing your desperation to reach an agreement. Without desperation, there is less pressure on you as you negotiate.

5. Relationship Leverage: Having a strong and valuable relationship with the other party that can be leveraged for mutual gain. Whether the other parties are coworkers, family members, friends, or even previous customers, this type of leverage can help you succeed in your negotiations.

The ability to protect and enhance your leverage can be the linchpin of your negotiation strategy. Here's why leverage is so crucial:

- Increased Control: Leverage empowers you to guide the direction of the negotiation and shape the terms of the agreement. This can work to your favor if you use it correctly. 

- Better Terms: Strong leverage can lead to more favorable terms, such as higher prices, better contract terms, or greater concessions from the other party.

- Reduced Risk: When you have leverage, you are better positioned to mitigate potential risks and protect your interests.

Now, let's delve into strategies for protecting leverage in negotiations:

Strategies for Protecting Leverage

1. Know Your Leverage Points: Before entering a negotiation, thoroughly assess your sources of leverage. Understand what you bring to the table and why it's valuable to the other party, as well as what leverage you can use to your own advantage.

2. Strengthen Your Position: Prior to the negotiation, take steps to bolster your leverage. For example, if you possess information leverage, gather and organize relevant data that can be used to your advantage. This could be a crucial step in order to further your argument.

3. Establish Clear Objectives: Set specific goals for the negotiation that align with your leverage. Knowing what you want to achieve makes it easier to protect your position and to avoid possible risks that may throw you off.

4. Maintain Confidence: Confidence is a powerful asset in negotiations. Believe in the value of your leverage, and project that confidence in your interactions.

5. Build Relationships: Cultivate relationships with the other party outside the negotiation context. A positive relationship can be leveraged as an asset in the negotiation. This can help you gain relationship leverage, ultimately aiding your negotiation strategy. 

6. Create Competition: Whenever possible, introduce competitive elements into the negotiation. Multiple options or offers can enhance your leverage by creating a sense of urgency for the other party.

7. Practice Active Listening: Listen attentively to the other party to identify their sources of leverage and any weaknesses you can exploit. See my other blog on the power of silence in negotiations to grasp this concept better.

8. Leverage Time: If you control the timeline of the negotiation, use it strategically. Deadlines can push the other party to make concessions.

9. Mitigate Information Leaks: Ensure that confidential information remains confidential. Leaks can erode your information leverage and weaken your argument and negotiation strategy. 

10. Understand the Other Party's Perspective: Put yourself in the shoes of the other party. Understanding their goals and constraints can help you protect your leverage.

Practical Tips for Implementing Leverage Protection

1. Do Your Homework: Research the other party, their needs, and their past negotiation strategies. The more you know, the better you can protect your position.

2. Stay Calm Under Pressure: In intense negotiations, emotional reactions can jeopardize your leverage. Stay composed and focused on your objectives.

3. Keep Alternatives in Mind: Always have a Plan B. Knowing you have other options can help you protect your leverage by reducing desperation.

4. Use Silence Effectively: We discussed the power of silence earlier. Employ it strategically to make the other party reveal information and potentially expose weaknesses in their position.

5. Be Willing to Walk Away: Sometimes, the most potent leverage is the readiness to walk away from the negotiation if terms don't meet your objectives.

6. Don't Underestimate the Power of Timing: The timing of your negotiation can influence your leverage. Consider factors like market conditions, industry trends, and external events when timing your negotiations.

7. Legal Safeguards: In business negotiations, it's crucial to protect your interests with well-drafted contracts and legal safeguards that reinforce your leverage.

8. Delegate Authority: Ensure that the other party knows you have the authority to make decisions. This can strengthen your position by reducing the need for additional approvals.


In the intricate art of negotiation, leverage is the linchpin to achieving your objectives. Understanding the nature of your leverage, protecting it, and employing it effectively can be the key to successful negotiations. As you hone your negotiation skills and consistently apply the strategies and tips outlined in this blog, you'll find yourself better equipped to navigate the twists and turns of negotiations, secure favorable terms, and protect your interests. Remember, negotiation is not a zero-sum game; it's an opportunity for all parties involved to reach mutually beneficial agreements. By safeguarding your leverage, you can ensure that you're a more formidable and successful negotiator.

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