Negotiation Leverage: Your Path to Successful Results


Negotiating is a crucial skill in both personal and professional realms. A successful negotiator is skilled at steering conversations, managing power dynamics, and arriving at mutually advantageous outcomes. One of the most critical elements of negotiation is recognizing and employing negotiation leverage. 

As a professional negotiator, mastering this skill is critical to increasing your chances of success. In this article, we dig deeper into the critical components of negotiation leverage, drawing on the wisdom of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to identify, obtain, and effectively use negotiation leverage.  


What is Negotiation Leverage? 

Negotiation leverage is the power or advantage a party has in a negotiation that can be used to sway the outcome in their favor. Information, resources, alternatives, and relationships are all factors that can contribute to negotiating leverage.  

  1. Information: Having more information than the other party can give you a significant advantage in a negotiation.
  2. Resources: Resources, like time, money, or expertise, can be leveraged to gain an edge in a negotiation. A party with more financial resources may be able to present a more enticing offer, while a party with more time might be able to endure the other party’s deadline.
  3. Alternatives: Having strong alternatives to the deal under negotiation can supply considerable leverage. When you have alternative options, your reliance on the current negotiation’s outcome decreases, making you less vulnerable to pressure from the opposing party. 
  4. Relationships: Strong relationships and alliances with powerful people or organizations can also provide leverage. These connections can be used to gain support, gather information, and even exert influence over the other party.


How Do You Gain Negotiation Leverage? 

Acquiring negotiation leverage starts with comprehensive preparation. Investigate the other party and gather as much information about their needs, preferences, and limitations as possible. Ascertain your own resources and alternatives, and compare them to those of the other party. Develop and maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders who can offer assistance or influence the negotiation. Finally, be aware of the other party’s tactics and strategies and be prepared to effectively counter them.

Obtaining negotiation leverage is a multifaceted process that demands a blend of research, self-awareness, and strategic thinking. Here are six steps to help you secure the upper hand in any negotiation:

  1. Conduct extensive research: Start by amassing as much information as possible about the other party, their needs, preferences, and constraints. Explore their previous negotiation behavior, reputation, and decision-making processes. The more you know about the other party, the better equipped you’ll be to pinpoint potential leverage points and anticipate their moves.
  2. Evaluate your resources and alternatives: Assess your own resources, such as time, money, and expertise, and consider how they compare to the other party’s. Additionally, identify your alternatives to the deal under negotiation. Having strong alternatives provides leverage because it diminishes your dependence on the current negotiation and permits you to walk away if necessary.
  3. Develop a negotiation strategy: Based on your research and evaluation of your resources and alternatives, devise a clear negotiation strategy. Determine your objectives, pinpoint your key leverage points, and decide how you will use them to achieve your desired outcome. Be prepared to adapt your strategy as new information or opportunities emerge during the negotiation process.
  4. Build and maintain relationships: Nurture strong relationships with key stakeholders, both inside and outside the negotiation. These relationships can provide valuable information, resources, and support, all of which can be used to strengthen your leverage. Demonstrating a history of successful collaborations and partnerships can also enhance your credibility and bargaining power.
  5. Be aware of the other party’s tactics and strategies: As you engage in negotiations, pay close attention to the other party’s tactics and strategies. Recognize when they are attempting to gain leverage or undermine your position, and be prepared to counter their moves effectively. By staying one step ahead, you can maintain control over the negotiation and safeguard your leverage.
  6. Cultivate a strong negotiation presence: Your negotiation presence, or the way you present yourself during the negotiation process, can also impact your leverage. Exude confidence, professionalism, and competence to convey that you are a formidable negotiator. Additionally, practice active listening and effective communication to demonstrate empathy and understanding, which can help build rapport and trust with the other party.


How Do You Use Negotiation Leverage? 

Once you have identified your sources of negotiation leverage, it’s crucial to use them effectively. Here are five approaches to help you get there: 

  1. Understand Your Leverage: Recognize the specific leverage points you have in a negotiation and how they can benefit you. This allows you to make informed decisions about which strategies to employ. 
  2. Concentrate on Your Strong Points: Emphasize the areas where you have the most clout and use them to your advantage. For example, if you have more information than the other party, use it to steer the conversation and demonstrate your expertise. 
  3. Create Competition: Consider making the other party aware of the strong alternatives you have to the deal being negotiated. This can create a competitive atmosphere, encouraging the other party to make concessions in order to finalize the agreement.
  4. Relationships should be nurtured: Build strong relationships with key stakeholders involved in the negotiation process. This can bring you valuable knowledge, resources, and backing, all of which can enhance your leverage. 

Keep in mind that one of the most effective forms of negotiation leverage is the readiness to walk away from a deal that does not satisfy your requirements. Prepare to part ways when necessary, and demonstrate the other party that you are serious about considering this option.


Real Life Story: Disney-Pixar Negotiation 

The 2006 Walt Disney Company acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios is an example of negotiation leverage. In this high-stakes negotiation, two entertainment industry heavyweights used their leverage to get what they wanted. 

Disney’s future success depended on revitalizing its animation division, which was struggling at the time of the negotiations. “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” and “The Incredibles” were Pixar hits. Pixar had a strong track record and a desirable product, giving it leverage. 

Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, saw Pixar as a way to revitalize Disney Animation. Iger also understood that Pixar’s co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, had reservations about the deal due to past tensions between the companies. Iger built a strong relationship with Jobs and showed his commitment to Pixar’s unique creative culture to gain leverage. 

Iger’s efforts paid off, and negotiations led to a compromise. Disney used its resources and global distribution network to entice Pixar, while Pixar used its creative success and brand reputation to negotiate favorable terms. Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion in stock, making Steve Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder and giving Pixar’s leadership significant influence. 

This case study illustrates negotiation leverage. Disney’s resources and distribution capabilities and Pixar’s creativity and brand reputation influenced negotiations. Bob Iger’s relationship-building helped overcome obstacles and seal the deal. 

The Disney-Pixar negotiation highlights the importance of understanding and using negotiation leverage in high-stakes deals. Both parties achieved a mutually beneficial outcome that changed the entertainment industry by identifying and capitalizing on their unique advantages. 



Negotiation leverage is a critical component of successful negotiations. By understanding the different types of leverage and how to effectively gain and use them, you can significantly increase your chances of reaching a favorable outcome. As a professional negotiator, mastering negotiation leverage will make you a formidable force in any negotiation scenario.

Shapiro Negotiations Institute provides valuable insights and expertise in negotiation leverage, offering a solid foundation for anyone looking to improve their negotiation skills. By learning from the best, you can equip yourself with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate complex negotiations and achieve your desired results.

To learn more about the Shapiro Negotiations Institute and how it can help you become a professional negotiator, visit our website and explore their range of resources, training programs, and expert advice.

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