In the world of negotiation, understanding human behaviour is critical. Robert Cialdini, a prominent social psychologist, identified six principles of influence that can play a crucial role in these scenarios. These principles – reciprocity, commitment (or consistency), social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity – have evolved in their application in today’s interconnected society.

Reciprocity is a fundamental aspect of human interaction. In negotiation, this principle can be effectively applied by initially asking for more than what one needs, then making a concession to what one genuinely needs. This tactful concession can lead your counterpart to feel the need to reciprocate, making them more likely to accept your proposal.

Commitment or Consistency is another powerful tool in negotiation. People tend to stay consistent with their past commitments. By getting your counterpart to agree to something small initially, they’re more likely to agree to more significant requests later on due to the desire to stay consistent with their initial commitment.

Social Proof becomes increasingly influential in the age of social media and digital connectivity. People often gauge what’s right or desirable based on what others perceive as right or attractive. In a negotiation, providing evidence that others are interested in or have benefited from your offer can make it more appealing to your counterpart.

Liking is an underpinning of successful negotiations. It’s no surprise that people prefer to say yes to those they know and like. Building rapport, finding common ground, and creating positive interactions can foster liking, making your counterpart more likely to agree with you.

Authority plays a significant role in shaping people’s decisions. People are more likely to agree to those they perceive as having authority, power, or extensive knowledge. Demonstrating your authority, expertise, or experience can give you a considerable advantage in a negotiation.

Scarcity brings into play the psychological bias where people assign higher value to opportunities that they perceive as scarce. In a negotiation, creating a sense of scarcity, such as through time-limited offers or highlighting the uniqueness of the opportunity, can make your offer more attractive.

These principles are not just theoretical; they have practical applications across various facets of life and work. For instance, salespersons often use props to make their pitches more effective and memorable, which is a perfect blend of the principles of ‘Liking’ and ‘Social Proof’​1​​2​.

However, while these principles can be highly effective at times, they also raise important ethical considerations. Are they brilliant tactics or unfair manipulation? I believe the answer lies in how they’re used. If applied with respect for the other party’s autonomy and well-being, they can be powerful tools for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. However, if used to deceive or exploit, they can be considered manipulative and unethical.

Would I use them in negotiations? Yes, but with caution. I would strive to apply these principles ethically, with the goal of creating win-win situations. For instance, I might use Reciprocity by offering valuable information or assistance, hoping to foster goodwill and cooperation. I could use Scarcity by emphasizing the unique benefits of my proposal and the opportunity cost of delay. However, I would avoid creating false scarcity or pressuring the other party into hasty decisions.

They’ve all influenced the negotiation strategies of Program on Negotiation faculty member Daniel L. Shapiro, Ph.D. Here’s a bit Q&A with Professor Shapiro, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital, founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program and author of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts.

Q. What’s one surprising thing people may not know about you?

A: When I was seven years old, I bought a book called The Amateur Magician’s Handbook, which led to seven weeks of magic classes. It became one of my childhood passions. I even had business cards that said, “For sleight of hand, call Magic Dan.” I used to perform at birthday parties for the wild charge of $2 for a half-hour show. I remember feeling incredibly guilty when I bumped it up to $5.

Q: Do you still practice magic?

A: Not recently, but I truly think that training in magic was one of the best forms of education I could have had. I learned how to speak in front of people and keep their attention. It also taught me that there is often more than meets the eye. My whole life’s work has been dedicated to that—trying to understand what’s beneath the surface in deeply embedded conflict situations, when it looks like two people are acting irrational or against their own interests. Maybe it’s an illusion and we need to understand what’s really behind it in order to help move things forward.

Q: What personality trait do you feel causes the most or biggest problems at the bargaining table?

A: Obstinance is a big problem. When negotiators are completely egoistic and stuck on themselves, they’re unlikely to listen to others. They’re unlikely to seek an outcome that works for everybody, and in turn, they fail to achieve an optimal outcome. I think strong muscle without emotional sensibility doesn’t take you very far..

I highly agree. In an Impact Negotiation, comprehending the mindset of our counterpart is paramount. It’s not just about avoiding conflicts but fostering meaningful interactions and fostering shared understandings. Today, we’re delving into another principle of Impact Techniques – the art of “Visualizing Known Information”

In Impact Negotiation, the objective isn’t merely to communicate, but to resonate. This process often involves taking the familiar – everyday objects, experiences, and knowledge – and putting them into a novel context. It’s about crafting a bridge between the known and the new, fostering a rich tapestry of cognitive, emotional, visual, and tactile responses, all caused a “shift of perspective” onto a interesting process.

By using visualization techniques, we can elicit stronger engagement from our counterparts, facilitating their openness and improving their ability to process our messages best way. Let’s explore three examples of how everyday objects can be used in this context.

  1. The Hourglass: The custom made hourglass can symbolize time scarcity and the need for decision-making. It can create a sense of urgency, triggering a cognitive response that encourages your client to focus and weigh their options.
  2. The Jigsaw Puzzle: A custom made jigsaw puzzle is a great metaphor for problem-solving. Each piece represents a different aspect of the problem, and only when all the pieces are put together can the complete picture – or solution – be seen. This can visually convey the complexity of an issue and the need for comprehensive solutions.
  3. The Compass: The custom made/labeled compass can represent direction and guidance. By using it, you could visually communicate your role as a guide in the negotiation process, helping your client navigate the complexities and move towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

In each of these examples, we’re linking known information (the familiar object) with new information (the negotiation context), triggering multi sensory responses and enhancing client engagement, but here’s my favorite for you:

The Gypsy Thread magic trick, which involves breaking a thread into multiple pieces and then magically restoring it to a single piece, can symbolically perfectly well! represent the process of resolving a conflict or dispute in a negotiation. The broken thread can represent the relationship between the disputing parties, which has been damaged or severed due to circumstances of  conflict.

As the magician (or in this case, the negotiator or mediator) slowly gathers and restores the broken thread, it signifies the process of careful listening, understanding, and piecing together the different perspectives and interests of the parties involved in the dispute. The final act of restoring the thread to its original form can represent the resolution of the conflict, where the once broken relationship is now healed and whole again… “..and now we start from scratch, please”

This magic trick can serve as a powerful visual and symbolic tool in negotiations, particularly in emotionally charged conflicts. It can help the parties involved understand that their fragmented relationship can be mended and made whole again, much like the broken thread.

Moreover, as Professor Shapiro mentions, magic can teach us that there is often. way. more. than meets the eye. In a negotiation context, this could refer to the underlying interests, concerns, and emotions that may not be immediately apparent in a conflict situation. The Gypsy Thread trick, therefore, can also signify the process of revealing and addressing these hidden elements to resolve the conflict effectively. Finally, the very act of performing a magic trick in the midst of a tense negotiation could potentially lighten the atmosphere, introduce an element of surprise, and shift the participants’ focus, making them more receptive to dialogue and resolution by “Zooming Out” after intense talks, overlook the whole picture of the negotiation, focus back onto steps heal a heated situation. Here’s how to do and enjoy healthy, “magical” relationships:

Today, we dive into the world of negotiation, not just through words, but with an emphasis on full sensory engagement. The concept of ‘Impact Negotiation’ we’re exploring today is grounded in the work of Dani Beaulieu and her impact techniques for psychotherapy. The principle we’re focusing on is the ‘Multisensory Experience’.

Imagine this: our understanding and learning are not confined to the realm of the audible. Indeed, the prevalent method in negotiation relies heavily on the auditory sense, but what if we were to consider that a person could learn most effectively when all senses are engaged?

Consider a scenario where a misunderstanding arises between you and your negotiation counterpart. They perceive your message differently from your intended communication. Such discrepancies often lead to communication roadblocks, subsequently impacting the relationship you share with your conversation partner. This can lead to a sense of frustration and demotivation, making the entire negotiation process feel arduous.

To circumnavigate these communication hurdles, we propose a shift in perspective. Rather than relying solely on the auditory sense, why not tap into the visual one? Research suggests that approximately 60% of all information is received through the visual sense, making it a potent tool in our communication arsenal.

Thus, the essence of ‘Impact Negotiation’ isn’t about asking, “How can I articulate my point to my client?” but rather, “How can I demonstrate my point to my client or elucidate it in a different way?”

By incorporating a multisensory approach, we’re not only making our message clearer, but we’re also enriching the negotiation experience. This method leverages the fundamental principles of human psychology, acknowledging the diverse ways in which we perceive and process information.

Stay cutious as we delve deeper into the principles of ‘Impact Negotiation’ in our upcoming blog posts. Our exploration will involve the blending of negotiation tactics with psychological insights, resulting in an innovative and effective approach to achieving successful negotiation outcomes.

The article “Investigative Negotiation” from Harvard Business Review presents a comprehensive approach to negotiation, emphasizing the importance of understanding the other party’s perspective. Here are the key concepts:

  1. Understanding the Other Side’s Motives and Goals: The first principle of investigative negotiation is to understand why the other party wants what they do. This involves digging for information and thinking like a detective. Inaccurate assumptions about the other side’s motivations can lead to proposing solutions to the wrong problems, needlessly giving away value, or derailing deals altogether.
  2. Identifying Constraints: The second principle is to figure out what constraints the other party faces. Often, when your counterpart’s behavior appears unreasonable, their hands are tied somehow. You can reach an agreement by helping overcome those limitations.
  3. Interpreting Demands as Opportunities: The third principle is to view onerous demands as a window into what the other party prizes most. This information can be used to create opportunities.
  4. Finding Common Ground: The fourth principle is to look for common ground. Even fierce competitors may have complementary interests that lead to creative agreements.
  5. Staying at the Table: The final principle is to stay at the table and keep trying to learn more, even if a deal appears lost. Even if you don’t win, you can gain insights into a customer’s future needs, the interests of similar customers, or the strategies of competitors.

The article also provides several examples to illustrate these principles, emphasizing the importance of asking questions, mitigating the other party’s constraints, interpreting demands as opportunities, creating common ground with adversaries, and investigating even if the deal seems lost.Here’s the full article:

In the world of business, negotiation is a critical important skill. It’s the art and comprehensive science of reaching an agreement through dialogue, where both parties involved have their interests at stake. Traditional negotiation methods often revolve around a zero-sum game, where one party’s gain is the other party’s loss. However, Keld Jensen’s SMARTnership approach to negotiation offers a fresh, far going perspective, transforming negotiations into real win-win opportunities claiming all the possible value. This innovative, comprehensive approach is designed to create value for all parties involved, fostering a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are the key benefits of the SMARTnership approach I learned during my take of the course:

  1. Value Creation: The primary goal of SMARTnership is to create value for all parties involved. Instead of focusing on dividing a fixed pie, it encourages negotiators to expand the pie, creating more opportunities for everyone. This approach fosters creativity and innovation, as parties work together to identify and exploit potential synergies.
  2. Long-Term Relationships: SMARTnership promotes the development of long-term, sustainable relationships. By focusing on mutual gains, it fosters trust and cooperation, which are essential for maintaining long-term business relationships. This approach can lead to repeat business, referrals, and a positive reputation in the industry.
  3. Reduced Conflict: By shifting the focus from winning to collaborating, SMARTnership reduces the potential for hindering emotions, conflict. It encourages open communication and understanding, which can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes. This can save time, money, and stress that would otherwise be spent on resolving conflicts.
  4. Risk Mitigation: SMARTnership helps mitigate risks by promoting transparency and open communication. By understanding each other’s needs and constraints, parties can work together to develop solutions that minimize risks for everyone involved. This will lead to more stable and predictable business relationships.
  5. Efficiency: SMARTnership leads straight to more efficient negotiations. By focusing on mutual gains, parties can avoid the time-consuming and often frustrating process of haggling over every detail. This can lead to quicker agreements and less wasted resources and loops of re-negotiation.
  6. Improved Reputation: Businesses that adopt the SMARTnership approach can definitely improve their reputation. By demonstrating a commitment to fairness, collaboration, and real, mutual benefit, they can position themselves as ethical and responsible business partners. This can enhance their brand image and attract more customers, partners, and investors.
  7. Increased Satisfaction: Finally, SMARTnership can lead to increased satisfaction for all parties involved. By ensuring that everyone’s interests are taken into account, it can lead to outcomes that everyone is happy with. This can improve morale, motivation, and commitment, which can have a positive impact on business performance.

Keld Jensen’s SMARTnership approach to negotiation offers a powerful, game changing alternative to traditional zero-sum negotiation methods, the shift is truly huge. By focusing on cooperative and extensive value creation options, long-term relationships, reduced conflict, risk mitigation, efficiency, improved reputation, and increased satisfaction, it can, it will transform negotiations to new heights. Whether you’re negotiating a major business deal or a minor agreement, SMARTnership can help you achieve significant better outcomes for everyone involved: Take a free trial for a first impression:

Navigating the complexity of negotiations involves balancing contrasting principles: cooperation and competition, both pivotal in their own right. The dynamic tension between these principles can often pose a “negotiator’s dilemma”. Can this equilibrium be managed? Yes, indeed, through an innovative strategy called Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers (MESOs).

Two schools of thought dominate the negotiation arena: the “Value Creators” view negotiation as a harmonious venture aiming for mutual gain through transparent exchange of information and creative problem solving. In stark contrast, the “Value Claimers” approach negotiation as a contest, focusing on outperforming the other party by employing tactics such as highballing, minimal concessions, tight-lipped information sharing, and at times resorting to intimidation.

Though these perspectives might appear conflicting, negotiation experts suggest that an effective negotiator embraces both these perspectives. The trick lies in creating abundant value and assertively claiming a proportionate share. The challenge then emerges when negotiators are not naturally proficient at both.

The negotiator’s dilemma arises when there’s a struggle between the cooperative and competitive aspects of negotiation. This is evident when deciding whether to share sensitive information about interests and priorities. While revealing such information could lead to value creation, it could also leave you vulnerable to exploitation. Conversely, withholding this information could result in missed opportunities or a stalemate.

So how do we overcome this quandary of creating value without exposure to risk and claiming value without straining relationships? This is where the concept of MESOs comes into play.

The initial offer in any negotiation can often trigger destructive competition. Counteroffers tend to lean towards the direction of the first offer, regardless of its fairness or arbitrariness. The counterparty often devalues the first offer, leading to either aggressive counteroffers or abandonment of the negotiation table. To mitigate this, MESOs provide a solution – presenting two or more equally valued package offers for the counterpart to choose from. This strategy communicates goodwill, avoids unnecessary sacrifices, and more often than not, results in a more favorable outcome compared to a single offer scenario.

Let’s take the example of a hiring manager proposing a job offer to a candidate. Instead of presenting a single package or negotiating individual components, the manager could present three equally valued packages, allowing the candidate to choose, thus introducing flexibility and facilitating a mutually beneficial agreement.

However, while making MESOs, it’s crucial to be wary of overwhelming the counterpart with too many options, potentially nullifying the benefits of MESOs.

There are also additional strategies to navigate the negotiator’s dilemma:

  1. Engage a neutral third party like a mediator to facilitate information exchange and reduce potential exploitation.
  2. Develop a single negotiating text, allowing for draft reviews and revisions until a consensus is reached.
  3. Consider a post-settlement settlement, which opens up space for further improvements after the initial agreement, fostering creative thinking and reducing competitive tension.

To conclude, understanding and effectively leveraging MESOs can significantly enhance your negotiation outcomes while managing the inherent dilemmas and balancing the trade-off between competition and cooperation.

The addition of a right of first refusal in your commercial transaction can transform an ordinary deal into a strategic, value-added proposition. To optimize this tool, an astute negotiation of the particulars is non-negotiable.

A ‘right of first refusal’ (RoFR), often referred to as a matching right or right of first offer, is an instrumental clause in business contracts that, if carefully utilized, can bring about significant benefit to both parties. Elucidated by Professor Guhan Subramanian of Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, an RoFR confers upon one contractual party the privilege to equal any subsequent offer that the other party receives for the item or subject in question.

Consider a property owner negotiating a lease agreement with a potential tenant. The landlord wishes to retain the future option to sell the property, while the tenant seeks to secure a long-term rental agreement. In this scenario, granting the tenant an RoFR – the opportunity to match any genuine third-party offer for the property – serves both parties’ interests. The tenant avoids the inconvenience of relocation, and the landlord retains the flexibility to sell to the highest bidder.

In this context, RoFR emerges as a potentially synergistic instrument, a powerful addition to your negotiation arsenal. However, to actualize its mutual benefits, it is imperative to meticulously delineate the parameters of the agreement.

The Devil is in the Details

Unfortunately, many contracts containing an RoFR clause suffer from ambiguity concerning the process to be followed when a right holder exercises their privilege. Subramanian advises clarity on what ensues when the right holder matches a competing bid. Will this signify the end of the competition, or initiate a bidding war?

Additionally, it’s critical to define the timeframe for deciding to match an offer. An unclear duration can be exploited by a third party through an ‘exploding offer’ – a bid with a tight deadline – potentially preventing a successful match. Ensure you negotiate a generous response period.

Different Flavors of First Refusal

Typically, the holder of an RoFR only needs to match the highest bid without partaking in the auction. However, a variant commonly seen in real estate and entertainment markets requires the right holder to either accept or reject the seller’s price before other potential buyers are approached. If rejected, the right holder forfeits their opportunity to match any future offers.

Researchers Brit Grosskopf and Alvin Roth caution that such a clause could transform an apparent boon into a liability. They posit a situation where you hold an RoFR for a property valued at $500,000. If required to match high bids, you might secure a bargain in a weak market, possibly reacquiring the property for $400,000. However, if you must respond before the market is tested, a demand of $475,000 could compel you to pay near your maximum while risking the loss of the property to a higher bid. Essentially, this scenario pits you against yourself in a bid.

Consequently, ensure that the specific terms of the RoFR will not unexpectedly disadvantage you later.

A Word of Caution for Third Parties

Potential bidders face a conundrum if their offer triggers an RoFR. On one hand, if the right holder exercises their privilege, you may waste time performing due diligence and negotiating. On the other hand, if they do not, you may have overpaid, given that the right holder likely possesses superior knowledge of the asset’s intrinsic value. For this reason, many prefer to eschew deals that invoke an RoFR.

However, certain conditions can alleviate these apprehensions. For instance, the right holder may be unable to match your offer due to liquidity constraints, or you may possess comparable

Our mission at Impact Negotiating is to support individuals and organizations with practical, efficient, and potent negotiating services, enabling them to navigate their personal and professional lives with confidence and ease. We are passionate about helping people unlock their objectives, their potential and we are eager to share our expertise and experiences as an avenue for collaboration, mutual respect, and shared value with you through this blog.

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