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“Power-with” v/s “Power-over”

“the harder you make it for them to say no, the harder you make it for them to say yes"

-William Ury, Getting Past No


Power is not absolute, in fact it is situational and complex. In most negotiation relationships the power balance evolves with time as the negotiation progresses. Power tends to exist in two realms – real and perceived. Perceptions play a key role in the use and misuse of power, and it only persists as long as both parties recognise it.


Being prepared goes a long way in establishing confidence, and thus impacting preconceived perceptions. A well defined strategy document and financial projections don’t just help visualizing the founder’s narrative, but also helps bring the idea to life for an investor, bringing a tangible purview to the table. 


Power is also a relational concept and typically arises from interdependence between parties or dependence by one on the other. “Power over” is commonly defined as A having more influence on B to do what A wants. Founders often walk to the negotiation table assuming investors have power over them. While this often leads to lack of confidence on the founder's part, it also leads to them trying too hard and coming off as desperate as if hiding something from the investors. 


“Power with” is a collaborative relationship that works towards fair value distribution between all parties involved in the negotiation. A founder and an investor share a collaborative relationship as well. Both parties need to recognise and establish that their needs get met by the same outcome, success and sustainable growth of the venture. As long as both parties work in accordance with the given, collaboration enhances value generation for both parties, leading to a positive and integrative relationship between the Founder and the Investor and financial gains for both parties.


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