Every negotiation requires persuasion. Clearly, in a negotiation, your initial position differs from the position of your negotiating partner. Because of this difference in your positions, you convene to negotiate the best possible way to satisfy the interests of both sides involved. In theory, that sounds very clear-cut. However, in reality, you might need to do a lot of persuading to convince your partner that a cooperative approach to negotiating is beneficial, or that a certain alternative that you suggest is indeed as attractive to your partner as you make it sound. Now, how do you do that?
How to persuade? - Tips & tricks from William Ury. Now that you want to persuade your negotiating partner to say yes - how would you go about it? To use the traditional style of argumentative reasoning, consider employing some key learnings from William Ury's "Getting Past No" (1991). In the labyrinth of a negotiation, you often reach major junctions. One of the lanes leading away from the junction represents your proposal, the other lanes are other options you and your negotiating partner have. How do you get your partner to walk the lane that you have suggested?
Firstly, you can make it easy for your partner to say yes to your proposal by identifying the advantages involved. Help your partner to see how valuable accepting your proposal really is. Strategically highlighting the good road condition on your lane will help your partner to decide walking this particular lane. Beyond letting the surface-level facts speak for you, remember to make it even easier for your partner to say yes by taking care to meet their actual interests. What is your partner really looking for, and does your proposal meet this interest well? If your partner is looking for a stepp climb and you are offering a trail through the Himalayans that really must be the way to go!
Secondly, make it difficult to say no to your proposal by helping your partner to identify the disadvantages of other options. Take a look a the other lanes leading away from your negotiating junction. What does your partner think will happen if he takes them rather than the road you suggested? Help your partner to identify that other options do not meet their interests as well as your proposal.
But isn't there something less obvious? - Smooth principles of persuasion from Robert Cialdini. There is more to persuasion than reasoning your way to a "yes". Our decisions are not always perfectly rational, and indeed our gut feeling often determines which options we go for. Even in important negotiations and decision-making processes, we are not a perfect homo economicus. Rather, as indicate by Nobel-Price-winner Daniel Kahneman in his Prospect Theory (1979), we often stray from rational decisions and employ heuristics and biases in the process.
Psychologist Robert Cialdini (1984) identified which heuristics and biases we are influenced by when we are being persuaded. He found 6 principles that guide us when being persuaded, and that persuaders can therefore apply to address the not-perfectly-rational side in their negotiating partners.
Reciprocity: Give back when you receive. Being granted a favor creates a strong pull on us to reciprocate. When you receive an invitation to a birthday party, you usually take great care not to forget to - in exchange - invite the host to your next celebratory get-together as well. However, we are not only driven to reciprocate in such private situations, but our negotiations are equally driven by the pull to reciprocate. Imagine your partner invites you to out a business lunch - you will then probably be more likely agree to a proposal that is presented to you. The reciprocity principles also applies when someone makes a concession for us: rather than offering you a product for the regular price, you get a special, personalized discount - and will be more likely to make bigger and more frequent deals with the concession-maker.
Consistency: Stay committed to previous choices. We often like to stick to what we have done before. When you are known to be a cooperative negotiator, and reminded that indeed this is your reputation, you are more likely to act cooperatively in you upcoming negotiation as well. The consistency principles also suggests that you aim for jotting agreements down in writing, or for public commitment to a certain deal: what has been fixed is rarely changed.
Social Proof: Follow herd instinct. The crowd does not err - or so it seems. Public support for an idea or product therefore can create a strong incentive to follow the example of the crowd. Your negotiating partner is therefore more likely to agree to your proposal if you or the proposal itself have received social proof and public support.
Authority: Agree with the expert. We like to consult the opinion of acclaimed experts before we make our decisions. Be it consulting Jamie Oliver's cooking books before making a decision on seasoning the lamb, or checking out the credentials of a surgeon before letting her put hands on us, we like to make sure that we put our fate in the hand of true experts. Expertise implies trustworthiness, and previous success. In a negotiation, your partner will be more likely to agree to your proposal if you could for example demonstrate that either you are an expert on this type of proposal because you have successfully worked with similar ideas before, or that your proposal is based on an external source of expertise, such as scientific research.
Liking: Caring makes doing. Being liked is a strong little helper in getting the good deals. From getting an extra heap of whipped cream on your coffee because the Barista liked your joke, to closing a deal because you connected well with your negotiating partner, one should never underestimate the power of liking. Vice versa, if you are disliked, you may quickly get open doors slammed in your face: we are less likely to give the good deals to people we do not quite like. The principle of liking is arguably one of the more difficult to learn and apply in negotiations. After all, how do you get your partner to like you? Some strategic ideas include connecting over shared interests and successfully overcoming challenges together. For more ideas on how to get people to like you, stay tuned to read our upcoming tidbit.
Scarcity: Limitation makes demand. Rare things are always in high demand. Think about diamonds: would they really be so sought-after and high-priced if the real-deal-diamonds were not so rare and tricky to come by? Making yourself a bit scarce can therefore be helpful in tipping a decision in your favor. Signaling that your deal will not be available indefinitely, because you ultimately of course have other options as well, may create just the right amount of scarcity to spike your partner's interest in saying yes. If you season your application of the scarcity principle with the right amount of encouragement for a cooperation to avoid creating a threatening message, your persuasion is on the track to get you to yes.
P is for persuasion. Now that you know the key ingredients to successful persuasion, we hope you can successfully put the P into your next negotiation!
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