Feeling Powerless in Negotiations? Whistle a Happy Tune!

by Melissa Hereford, Vice President of Products

Recent research in B2B negotiations discovered that buyers think they have all the power when it comes to negotiating a deal. And salespeople agree.

So, what’s a seller to do to regain some control?

Whistle a Happy Tune

In the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, the heroine sings a little ditty called “Whistle a Happy Tune” designed to spark her courage:

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect I’m afraid

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows I’m afraid

Sounds silly, right? Turns out that Rodgers and Hammerstein were onto something. Changing your physical posture and adding music can actually increase your sense of power. Look at these two research studies:

1) Stand up straight (“I hold my head erect and strike a careless pose”)

In her popular TedTalk, “Your body language shapes who you are,” (over 19 million views!), social psychologist, Amy Cuddy explains how you can change the way you feel by changing your posture. Just like in nature documentaries, humans can use a technique found in the wild… make yourself bigger to appear (and feel) more powerful. One idea is to stand with spread legs and hands on your hips.

Pump yourself up with music (“And whistle a happy tune”)
A recent study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, showed that bass-heavy music increases an athlete’s feeling of power in pre-game listening (Hsu et al., 2014). The number one high-power music choice? “We Will Rock You” by the group Queen.

Apparently, these techniques are more than feel-good, self-help strategies. They actually trigger hormonal responses that change the way you feel. Your testosterone increases, which makes you feel more in control, while cortisol decreases, which lowers your stress levels.

Skills to help you re-gain power

Although these “fake it ‘til you make it” ideas may help, adding negotiation skills and discipline will really change the power balance in your customer relationships. Check out these two eBooks designed to help you embrace the tension in negotiations and improve your execution in maximizing deal size and margins:

Tim Riesterer

Tim Riesterer

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations marketers and salespeople have with prospects and customers. His books, “Customer Message Management”, “Conversations that Win the Complex Sale”, “Three Value Conversations”, and "The Expansion Sale", focus on improving market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to win more deals. As chief strategy and research officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, content and training company.