Psychological hacks to use in negotiations

When it comes to negotiations, having the edge on the other side can make all the difference.

To do this, often it’s useful to dip into the field of psychology, and apply what we know about human behaviour to help benefit ourselves during the negotiation process. Here’s a few pointers to get you started.

Apply the theory of reciprocity

In 1971, Dennis Regan found that the participants in his study were more likely to reciprocate a kind gesture rather than do a favour for somebody out of the blue. Furthermore, he found that the emotional burden of repaying a favour caused participants to overcompensate their reciprocation.

Simply put, if Person A does something good for Person B, then Person B will often return the favour, but with a greater value.

The lesson to be applied in negotiation is clear, be nice to the other side and they’ll be nice back. For what it’s worth, the reverse is also true, be negative with somebody and they will reciprocate with negativity.

Go big, then small

Otherwise known as the door-in-the-face hack, this ones quite simple. The idea is that if you ask another person for something too big and unreasonable, they’ll likely turn you down. However, you can then try asking for a smaller favour, and the other person will feel compelled to help you out.

You can actually flip this on it’s head too. Start by asking for a small favour to get your foot in the door, and then once that’s been done you can ask for help with a bigger favour. This is due to cognitive dissonance, and has been studied and named as the Benjamin Franklin Effect.

Boost your own confidence

A confident person is more likely to get exactly what they want from any situation, not just in the workplace or during a sales deal.

Fortunately, it’s really easy to boost your self-confidence by exercising regularly. In the immediacy after exercise, the body releases endorphins, which make you feel all good inside. In the long term, weight loss or muscle building can do wonders for your self-image, mental strength, and ultimately, your confidence.

And if exercise isn’t for you, never mind – you can literally fake it till you make it. Look the part, act the part, speak the part, and the actual self-confidence will follow.

Avoid ambiguity

Not only do you want to boost your own confidence, you want to boost the confidence and trust people have in you.

A sure fire way to lose credibility and trust is by fastening ‘I think‘ or ‘I believe‘ to either the start or end of your sentences. Using these in a business deal means the other side won’t take you seriously, as it doesn’t sound like you are completely sure about what you’re saying. From here on out, try ‘I know‘ instead.

For more help on boosting your chances in a negotiation, see our courses on negotiation skills training.