Principles of Persuasion – The Psychology Behind Successful Negotiation

Whether you recognize it or not, you conduct negotiations every day in your social and work life. Becoming a master negotiator involves understanding the primary approaches of the negotiation, and thus uncovering the principles of persuasion basis behind successful negotiations. This skill becomes even more important when encountering other experienced negotiators. Read on to learn more about how some understanding of psychological processes could help you to achieve better deals.  


For decades, researchers in a wide range of academic disciplines have studied the factors that drive us to agree to the requests of others. Common sense suggests that when someone must make an important choice, they carefully consider all available information to create an informed decision. However, research conducted by social psychologist Robert Cialdini indicates that our decision-making is guided not by logical examination of the facts but certain universal shortcuts our brain takes to make quick decisions in the face of overwhelming information.

Understanding these shortcuts and properly implementing them along with following the rules of negotiation greatly increases your chances of successfully persuading a negotiating partner to agree with your request. This leads to a better outcome for your business and can encourage useful negotiations in the future. Throughout his experiments, Cialdini found six main principles of persuasion that guide decision-making. These principles of persuasion are extremely powerful and should be used frequently throughout your upcoming negotiations.

1. Liking

The principle of liking states that people prefer to accept the requests of others they like. The science of persuasion indicates that we like people for one of three reasons: they are similar to us, they pay us compliments, or they cooperate with us in the pursuit of common goals. But how does this translate to negotiation? Research shows that likability is one of the most important factors in reaching a beneficial outcome during negotiations, so take time to discover areas of similarity with your negotiating partner before you start proposing any terms.

2. Scarcity

People tend to want more from resources when they are limited. Effective negotiation requires you to not only inform the other party of the benefits they enjoy if they select your product but also demonstrate the value of the product and its limited availability. You must explain why your proposal is unique and convince the other party of what they may lose by neglecting to consider this proposal.

3. Authority

In any type of negotiation, people will follow knowledgeable, credible experts they can trust for honest information. It is vital to signal your authority to the other party before you attempt to influence their decision. Convincing potential clients cannot be done by simply telling them how beneficial your proposal is but must involve support from outside sources the other party finds reliable. When meeting new clients, ask someone to make the initial introduction who can be trusted to offer persuasive information about your proposal’s value.

Editor’s note:

The Data-Driven Procurement Certificate program teaches you the skills needed to drive better, fact-based decisions that ultimately benefit both organizations and its employees. As a data-driven procurement manager, you will have a comprehensive analytics skill set that will enable you to replace gut feeling with crystal clear analysis and help to achieve deals with results you have been dreaming of.

4. Consensus

When people are uncertain about how to behave, they analyze others’ behaviour to make decisions. While negotiating, you should not rely solely on your ability to influence others directly but also call attention to what other people are doing in the same situation, especially when these people are similar to them.

5. Reciprocity

When someone receives a gift or service from another person, they feel obligated and motivated to give something back of equal or greater value. Similar to other social contexts, negotiations benefit from reciprocity because a negotiating partner is more likely to say yes to terms put forth by the other person when they feel indebted to them in some way. Utilize the principle of reciprocity by being the party that gives the initial gift and making sure this gift is unexpected, personalized, and valuable.

6. Consistency 

Even if their previous decisions resulted in a less than desirable outcome, people tend to act consistently with past statements they shared and actions they performed. Research from several studies supports the conclusion that when a person agrees to a small commitment, this leads to a higher likelihood of agreement when approached with a larger commitment consistent with the initial one. Take advantage of this information in your negotiations by requesting small initial commitments made easily by the other party without much hassle.

Don’t forget to manage yourself

Key to any successful negotiation is emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of the people around you. Popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence includes four key elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. To become an emotionally intelligent negotiator, you must spend time honing all of these valuable skills.

 

Self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s emotions, identify how they affect others, and determine their role in making decisions. Self-awareness provides the framework for self-management, or the capacity to control one’s emotions and adapt behaviour to suit changing circumstances. Social awareness consists of the ability to perceive, interpret and react to the emotions of others. Relationship management concerns affecting others by inspiring them, influencing them, and aiding in their development.

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