Perceived Power
You may be more powerful than you think. Image – Canva.
  • In this fourth article in a series, Bushy Martin considers 'perceived power'
  • You may have more power in the negotiation than you might think
  • No one is holding a gun to your head, so imagine any 'gun' disappearing

In his fourth article in the series, investor, founder, author and media commentator Bushy Martin discusses the science and art behind property negotiation.

In the previous three pieces, the topic of property negotiation was introduced by explaining how you may need to change your outlook, build good rapport and use Mirroring and Labelling techniques.


In summarising the art and science of property negotiation so far, I have argued that it is important to shift your attitude and outlook away from looking for a zero-sum game win (if I win, you lose; what I take, you give) approach.

Rather, look to understand whoever you are dealing with, and figure out what they want, what motivates them, and how to work this into a solution.

Look at negotiation as problem-solving, collaboratively. Work together to get an end result. Such as a successful property sale.

While you are doing this, build rapport. Be open, friendly, likeable, smile… and listen, building trust. Do this with various techniques, such as mirroring and labelling, where you gel nicely with the person/people you are negotiating with.

Assuming all that is done, the final step to examine – before actually negotiating the property sale itself – is to look at the power relationship.

Perceived Power

Perceived power can have a big impact on the negotiation stance of the parties involved.

Where does the ‘perceived power’ lie between the parties in the negotiation, based on the circumstances and environment?

Let me share an example of something that happened in America some years ago.

It’s late at night in a big city, and Ted the businessman is walking through a dimly lit deserted parkland on his way home. All of a sudden, a would-be robber in a black Balaklava wielding a gun sneaks out from the shadows, points the gun at Ted’s head and demands that Ted give him his wallet and Rolex watch or he’ll shoot him.

How would you feel at that moment? Would you be scared?

The attacker feels he holds the power in the negotiation because he’s holding the loaded gun and he’s threatening to take Ted’s life – or at least impart serious injury – by shooting him if he doesn’t cough it up.

An uneasy silence ensues, and then Ted responds.

“Thanks mate, please shoot me as you’re doing me a favour. I’ve got terminal cancer and I only have a few months to live, so go ahead and please put me out of my misery.”

In an instant, the perceived power in the negotiation has completely shifted. The robber has been completely disempowered. The result – the would-be robber turned and ran into the night.

So, have a think about the power in the negotiation. Who really wields it? If you are a genuine buyer, you probably have more than you think. The real estate agent wants to get a deal over the line. That’s their job. There are plenty more properties on the market. You can walk away. No one’s putting a gun to your head, nor should you think they are. Imagine that gun disappearing in a puff of dust.

Conclusion so far

The best negotiations:

  • fulfil all parties’ hopes and dreams,
  • eliminate uncertainty,
  • build trust, and
  • balance the perceived power playing field to set the scene and arrive at win/win outcomes.

In the next article, we will get into the actual nuts and bolts of negotiating the purchase of a home.

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