Turning a Weak Position Into a Strong One

It is scary facing an adversary who appears to be dominant. This is true in self-defense situations, and it is true in negotiations. Just as I teach my hapkido and self-defense students that if attacked it will most likely be by a bigger and stronger opponent, we must often enter negotiations with a distinct disadvantage. Negotiating against someone who has a clearly dominant position is one of the greatest fears when negotiating. However, just as smaller people can learn to defend themselves against bigger and stronger attackers, we can learn to overcome a weak bargaining position to negotiate more effectively.

It is no fun entering a negotiation with a weak position. This is especially true when the opposing negotiator senses your weakness and attacks with tactics aimed at getting you to accept an unreasonable “take it or leave it” offer. Therefore, the projection of power during negotiations can increase how successful you’ll be.

Bluster, bravado, and bullying tactics are not what I mean by projecting a strong negotiation position. Replacing facts and figures with raising your voice can often be seen through as an obvious bluff. Without bravado and bullying, you should be self-confident regarding your negotiation success. If you are not confident you can succeed, you may want to reconsider negotiating in the first place. Going into a negotiation thinking and feeling that you will be slaughtered will most likely get you – slaughtered. If you think you are beaten, you will be. If you think you are not beaten, you still have a fighting chance. This is pretty much a universal principle for anything, negotiation included.

One of the most important keys to turning a weak position into a strong one when you cannot change the facts of the situation is in the projection of power. You want to project power through self-confidence and avoid projecting or showing weakness.

When discussing power, there are numerous considerations, and in fact there are many entire books on the topic. For purposes here in this short article, I want to focus on the difference between real power and perceived power. Real power being the power you actually possess and perceived power being the power others think you have. When we have the weaker bargaining position, it is often due to an imbalance of power. The weaker position is often due to having less real power, such as the small business owner negotiating with the large bank or the employee negotiating with his boss.

We must remember that perception is often more important than reality. Tom Peters and Bob Waterman wrote that perception is reality in their hugely popular “In Search of Excellence.” In negotiations, the perceptions of the interested parties usually have much more to do with the eventual outcome than the realities of the situation being bargained over. A person’s perceived power may be due to many different factors. The senior partner’s secretary may have greater influence with some decision-making than associates in a firm due to her proximity to the seat of power, even if her salary and actual authority is less than the attorneys in the firm. The significance between real and perceived power in the negotiation arena is that you don’t necessarily need a strong position when you negotiate as long as you are perceived as having one. If the opposing party thinks you have a strong position, that can be just as good as actually having one.

Besides perceived power, it is also important to maximize the power you do posses. In martial arts, the term structure can be used when referring to elements such as proper breath, spinal alignment, triangular positioning, posture, and axis among others. Sound anatomical structure is significant when faced with a deficit in terms of size and strength. By understanding and exercising sound anatomical structure, combined with techniques designed to maximize one’s strength for maximum effect to an opponent, the smaller person can exploit weak structure of an opponent and use sound structure and proper technique to compensate for lack of size and strength, thus being able to defeat the larger and stronger attacker. When negotiating, strength does not always come from your positions or what you have to trade at the bargaining table. Your ability to negotiate, which includes negotiation tactics, can assist you when negotiating against someone with a clearly dominant position.

Therefore, improving your negotiation skills, through study, practice, and experience will help you negotiate when your position is not as strong as those across the table. Your opponent may have the superior position, but if he is inept at negotiating, your better skills and tactics can see you through.

One important tactic when negotiating from a point of weakness is to focus on your strengths. Even when facing seemingly insurmountable odds, we can find strengths that may have been initially overlooked. It might take more planning, preparation, and forethought, but there are usually strengths, even if small, that we can focus on to improve our situation. We must always remember that the only reason someone is negotiating with us in the first place is because we have something they want. By focusing on our strengths, our confidence increases. It was noted above why confidence and projecting power are important. Use every strength you have to its maximum advantage.

Another important tactic is to focus on your opponent’s weaknesses. I often teach smaller people to go for the eyes if attacked by a larger person. Even the smallest person can cause damage to a three hundred pound behemoth if they jab their finger in the monster’s eye. The person you are negotiating with will have a weakness. You need to find the opening in their armor or their Achilles Heel. Once you find this, you can work their weaknesses into your overall strategy. When you find weaknesses, you add strength to your negotiating position. Sometimes these weaknesses will be readily apparent, other times you will need to research, probe, and explore with questions to uncover them. Regardless of how you find them, identifying and focusing on your opponent’s weaknesses will have a positive effect on the outcome as you negotiate from a weaker initial position.

In conclusion, we must accept the fact that at times we will enter negotiations with a distinct disadvantage and have to negotiate against someone who has a clearly dominant position. Rather than roll over and accept an unreasonable “take it or leave it” offer, the disadvantaged negotiator can improve this weaker position by focusing on the strengths of the position, finding the weaknesses of the opponent, and projecting power through self-confidence. Through study, practice, and experience, we can learn to overcome a weak bargaining position to negotiate more effectively. We need never fear the dominant adversary again.

What Advice Can You Give Me to Prepare For My First Cross Cultural Negotiation?

Of course, it is important to go into your negotiation with the right mindset.

Open your own cultural responses up to meet another culture.
But do not be so focused on the cross-cultural aspect of your negotiation so much that you forget your basic preparation.

Like all negotiations, preparation is important.

You need to know exactly:

Where you stand in your negotiation process,
What your aims are,
What exactly is on the table,
…and what is not.
Prior preparation can also be critical if there are any cross-cultural communication differences.

When you know the extent to which you can negotiate and are fully prepared, you will be able to pace yourself if there are any differences.

So, how do you prepare for your first cross-cultural negotiation?

Broad Outlines – Key Details

You need to prepare both the broad outlines and key details.

Most people remember to prepare for the key details. After all, these are important to the negotiation process. You know what details you need.

You should also ask yourself if there are other details that might be important from another cultural perspective. But don’t get too caught up in this. Blunders do not usually happen due to lack of preparation here.

They can happen if you forget to prepare…

Your broad outlines too.

This is where your own natural assumptions might lead you to miss something.

Here are a few questions to brainstorm:

Why are you there in the first place?
What is the one thing you want to get out of this negotiation?
What are your limits?
Knowing your limits and the broad outlines will help you to navigate any cultural differences more effectively should you find that you are not on the same boat.

Winging it rarely works in cross-cultural negotiations. You must stay focused. Your basic preparation is essential.

With regards to other cross-cultural aspect, a few key questions to the right person prior to your meeting is all you need before the meeting.

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Cindy King is a Cross-Cultural eMarketer & International Sales Specialist, aligning businesses with different cultures. She has over 25 years field experience in international business development and helps mid-sized business owners create international business development strategies that shorten time to profitability.

Hostile Takeovers

What is meant by Hostile Takeover?

Hostile Takeover is a type of acquisition in which, the company being purchased (Target Company) does not want to be purchased at all, or does not want to be purchased by a particular buyer (Acquirer) that is making a bid. In other words, the Acquired intends to gain control of the Target Company and force it to agree to the sale. The word ‘hostile’ in dictionary means ‘unfriendly, aggressive’.

Hostile Takeovers is a type of method used for Corporate Restructuring. There are other methods like Mergers & Acquisitions, Leveraged Buyout, Spin offs, etc. through which Corporate restructuring may be done.

In India, hostile takeover is a dreaded word, may be since it is a method used which is not democratic in nature and somewhat unpleasant for the management of a target company.

Why a hostile takeover?

There are several reasons why a company might want or need a hostile takeover. The major reason may be of financial gain instead of economic or business gain.

The acquiring company may think that the target company can generate more profit in the future than the selling price. E.g. If a company can make $100 million in profits each year, then buying that company for $200 million makes sense. That is why it is observed that so many corporations have subsidiaries that do not have anything in common — they were bought purely for financial reasons.

Legal Angle:

Companies Act 1956 does not expressly mention about takeovers or acquisitions. It primarily, only talks about Mergers & Amalgamations through Section 391-396.

SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares & Takeovers) Regulations, 1997 has been enacted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India which deals with acquisition of shares, takeovers, etc.

Neither the term ‘takeover’ nor the term ‘hostile’ has been expressly defined under the said Regulations, the term basically envisages the concept of an:


) taking over the control

) or management of the target company

) acquires substantial quantity of shares or voting rights of the target company.

Here the term ’substantial acquisition of shares’ attains a very vital importance, irrespective whether the corporate restructuring is through merger / acquisition / takeover.

The said SEBI Regulations have discussed this aspect of ’substantial quantity of shares or voting rights’ separately for two different purposes:

(I) For the purpose of disclosures to be made by acquirer(s):

(1) 5% or more shares or voting rights:

A person who, along with ‘persons acting in concert’ (PAC), if any, acquires shares or voting rights (which when taken together with his existing holding) would entitle him to more than 5% or 10% or 14% shares or voting rights of target company, is required to disclose the aggregate of his shareholding or voting rights to the target company and the Stock Exchanges where the shares of the target company are traded within 2 days of receipt of intimation of allotment of shares or acquisition of shares.

2) More than 15% shares or voting rights:

An acquirer, who holds more than 15% shares or voting rights of the target company, shall within 21 days from the financial year ending March 31 make yearly disclosures to the company in respect of his holdings as on the mentioned date. The target company is, in turn, required to pass on such information to all stock exchanges where the shares of the target company are listed, within 30 days from the financial year ending March 31 as well as the record date fixed for the purpose of dividend declaration.

(II) For the purpose of making an open offer by the acquirer:

(1) 15% shares or voting rights:

An acquirer, who intends to acquire shares which along with his existing shareholding would entitle him to more than 15% voting rights, can acquire such additional shares only after making a public announcement (”PA”) to acquire at least additional 20% of the voting capital of the target company from the shareholders through an open offer.

(2) Creeping limit of 5%:

An acquirer, who is having 15% or more but less than 75% of shares or voting rights of a target company can consolidate his holding up to 5% of the voting rights in any financial year ending 31st March. However, any additional acquisition over and above 5% can be made only after making a public announcement.

However in pursuance of Reg. 7(1A) any purchase or sale aggregating to 2% or more of the share capital of the target company are to be disclosed to the Target Company and the Stock Exchange where the shares of the Target company are listed within 2 days of such purchase or sale along with the aggregate shareholding after such acquisition / sale. An acquirer who has made a public offer and seeks to acquire further shares under Reg. 11(1) shall not acquire such shares during the period of 6 months from the date of closure of the public offer at a price higher than the offer price.

(3) Consolidation of holding:

An acquirer who is having 75% shares or voting rights of a target company can acquire further shares or voting rights only after making a public announcement specifying the number of shares to be acquired through open offer from the shareholders of a target company SEBI.

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