The Psychology of Negotiation: How to Get What You Want


Maria Harutyunian | Updated: 07-08-2021 10:53 IST | Created: 02-07-2021 10:28 IST
The Psychology of Negotiation: How to Get What You Want
Image Credit: Pixabay

Life is a process of continual negotiation, and nowhere more so than in the workplace. Your ability to negotiate successfully depends on whether you can influence others to see your side and become willing to compromise.

In the business world, an understanding of negotiation skills is essential. Once you draw the line between negotiation and basic psychology principles, you can find ways to persuade others to determine a resolution. Becoming a skilled negotiator can move you up the corporate career ladder, making it a vital ability employee should demonstrate.

Here are some psychological principles of persuasion and influence that can enhance your negotiation skills:

Be relatable

People relate better to those they feel they have something in common with. They are more likely to agree with you when they like you. Despite your first impression when walking into a room and meeting another negotiator, you will find something in common with them and create a rapport. It could be similar life experiences, interests, or backgrounds. You might discover that you and your opponent studied at the same university. Alternatively, your opponent may have kids the same age as yours. As you commiserate over sleepless nights, you build a connection that will stand you in good stead as negotiations continue.

An experienced negotiator will know if you are faking it within seconds, so be genuine in everything you say. You know that picking up disingenuousness or dishonesty in your interaction with someone is likely to make you reconsider their veracity and whether the negotiation process will flow smoothly.

To have that level of experience is not easy though and you need to master your skills with the best resources available. It could be a mentor or some popular training program. If you have already had training programs and want to enhance your skills further or in case you feel you need more than what the program provided, you can look for the best books on negotiation skills. It will serve as a ready reference and will always come in handy when you face a complex situation.

Show reciprocity

A vital psychological principle that applies to influencing others during a negotiation is a demonstration of reciprocity. Do not wait until the other negotiator offers something so you can reciprocate. Gain the advantage by being the first to make a concession, even if it is only a minor one. Immediately, your opponent will feel compelled to return the favor. Do not play all your cards during this concession. It does not need to be grandiose to have the necessary impact.

Being the first to demonstrate a willingness to compromise models the behavior you expect from the other negotiator. This does not involve a concession but instead sets the tone for upcoming interactions. Therefore, if you go into a negotiation behaving aggressively, expect the same behavior in return. Adapt your negotiation tactic once you have read your opponent, so you get the same from them.

Demonstrate authority

You might have seen movies where negotiators deliberately played down their level of knowledge or authority to lull their opponent into a false sense of security. Their opponent feels like they know more, and this sense of superiority might make them slip up and reveal more about their strategy than they should. However, this tactic does not always work.

Many negotiators find that going into a meeting with an air of authority and professionalism may put their opponent on the back foot and more likely to compromise. There is no need to be bombastic about asserting your authority. Instead, weave some comments about your expertise and experience into your initial conversation so your opponent knows they cannot pull the wool over your eyes. Humans are conditioned from a young age to respect authority. Therefore, if you make yours clear early, negotiations might be likelier to go your way.

Be consistent

Humans are creatures of habit, and many are change-averse. Indeed, they will do almost anything to avoid alterations to the status quo. For this reason, they are taught about routine from an early age as it is consistent and gives them a sense of security. As a negotiator, using consistency as part of your strategy could make your opponent relax and make more concessions than they originally planned to.

Enter a negotiation as you intend to leave it. Set ground rules from the time proceedings commence and stick to them. A need for consistency is what makes most people law-abiding citizens. They understand a boundary and that it should not be crossed. This approach will improve your chances of winning your opponent's respect, which will make them take you and your proposed resolutions seriously and give them due consideration.

Set time limits

Psychologically, people are more likely to acquiesce to something under time constraints. They are attracted by the scarcity of something and a need to get it. For example, think about online offers that prompt you to take advantage of a transaction within the next 15 minutes or lose out on a bargain price.

People view something scarce or in limited supply as more valuable and will make sacrifices to get it. A little time pressure could go a long way toward persuading your opponent to accept an offer and end the negotiation in your favor. Set deadlines on concessions you make as this could be the incentive the other negotiator requires to concede.

(Devdiscourse's journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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