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Negotiation power move: she tried to go from lower power to leader

A quick case study:

I ordered another book cover to be designed by the same team who worked on The Social Strategist.

Here was the customer service rep's first email:

She's the customer service representative. So, her role is to serve me (hence the title "customer service representative").

That puts her lower in power. But, here she tries to turn the tables.

And, if I accept her role as the leader, it limits my ability to complain or express dissatisfaction because she's the "leader guiding me" (implying I need her guidance) so she "knows what's best for me" (implying I can't speak out too much against her decisions).

That's not good for me if I later need to negotiate a discount, revisions, and so on.

So, I respond with a frame mirror (with a twist):

Ali: "Awesome, P. Follow my lead as well (frame mirror: rebalances power), I'll have some feedback (re-opens my freedom to disagree with her decisions) that will help us reach the design I'll be most satisfied with in the end (reframes my satisfaction in the end as being more improtant than our efficiency now).

You know how it goes (smoothens the power moves), looking forward to what the designer comes up with as a first look ("first" implying that, based on whether I like it or not, I might send it back for more revisions/new looks) :).


And, her response:

Of course, she could've gone without the winky face emoji (which could be interpreted as a potential microaggression).

But, overall, a positive outcome here, in my opinion.


She was one of the first people I told that TSS became a bestseller and she's been giving me free stuff ever since.

Plus, she positioned herself quite low-power when we started out, saying things like this:

I didn't like that communication (she's my customer service representative, not my servant), so I'd build her back up when I felt she was too accommodating with her language:

It's a strategy that probably played a role in the free stuff she gave (I've gotten an upgraded hotel suite before telling the employee she can talk normally to me :).

But, this latest communication of "follow my lead" was totally unusual and worth addressing, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, happy to read any feedback.

Lucio Buffalmano, Transitioned and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedKavalierBel

Well done, Ali.

I also like the mindset/approach of not wanting people to be too submissive and self-disempowering.

It's just not good for anyone when people prostrate themselves.
Plus, it's a very eagle thing not to enjoy people's excessive bowing (the more power-hungry, toxic, and narcissistic want that instead).

As for addressing the "follow my lead", yeah, it was fair and well done.

Ali Scarlett, Kavalier and Bel have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettKavalierBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?