Three Laws of Leverage

People often talk about using leverage in their negotiations.

But how does that work?

What does it look like?

And can you give me an example?

If they use the word “creativity” followed by a lack of substantive information then you’re probably speaking to a charlatan.

Chris Voss, former FBI international kidnapping negotiator says there are “three ways to think about leverage in negotiations.

  1. Some people think there is always leverage in every negotiation.
  2. Others think there is no such thing as leverage ever.
  3. There are also those who believe that it doesn’t matter what leverage the other party has on you. What matters is what they think of the leverage you have on them.”

As I write these down, I’m reminded of an interaction with a realtor a few years back.

The comical scenario revolved around an offensively low offer that he’d submitted.

It was on a lakefront listing of mine that I would later sell for 96% of our asking price.

After reviewing the purchase contact I noticed a self-proclaimed “Master Negotiator” title next to his signature.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

There was no use of an extreme anchor. No use of tactical empathy. No labeling, and no mirroring.

Instead, he demonstrated how to polarize a negotiation.

The exact thing that I try to avoid at all costs.  

While I feel that there is leverage in every negotiation, he obviously didn’t.

Or, he was masquerading as a negotiator without the appropriate skill set.

I wish this was a first.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common.

So in an effort to protect my clients from the fraudsters, I’ve created a documented approach to my Bottom Line Methodology.

The basic premise is to maximize ROI, while providing confidence, and predictable results for my clients.

To do so effectively, you must eliminate fundamental mistakes which is why a documented approach is critical.

And do you think negotiation has a big part in my BLM?


Thanks to people like Chris Voss, misconceptions about leverage are changing.

The old school hostage negotiator who’d say “surrender or die” or the business negotiator who say “take it or leave it” found it to be a failed approach.

Many hostages and deals alike were killed.

Because these words strike at the core of the essential human need for autonomy.

Similarly, submitting a low ball offer without the use of an extreme anchor, or tactical empathy is short sided.

Agents are leaving money on the table at the clients’ expense.

Simple psychology and negotiation tactics go a long way.

Especially if your agent is to “earn their keep.”