Just a month or so ago, marketer Nick Kolenda did entrepreneurs everywhere a great service by rounding up an astounding 29 science-backed strategies for pricing your products. Now, the helpful psychology buff has returned with another massive list, this time gathering together in one place the accumulated wisdom of science on the topic of negotiation, including these tips:
1. Control the logistics
It's not news that you want to seem powerful when you enter a negotiation. There are lots of subtle and complicated ways to achieve this aim (Kolenda discusses several of them in his complete list), but there's also one relatively easy way to boost your appearance of power--control the logistics of the negotiation.
"When planning the negotiation, you'll need to coordinate when, where, and how it will occur," Kolenda writes, noting that "people with less power are usually accommodating with those decisions." So even if you can't 100 percent control the details of the discussions, make sure you're not too flexible with the other party. "Don't be overly accommodating (and never reveal an empty calendar). Ideally, you should dictate those logistics," he advises.
2. Get up early
If you have sway when it comes to logistics then you can also put this second tip into action. "When proposing a time, you should usually suggest an early time (perhaps 9 or 10 a.m.). You'll get two main benefits. First, an early time ensures that you'll have ample time to negotiate. As Malhotra and Bazerman (2008) explain, 'The more time and other resources a negotiator has invested in the negotiation, the more willing the negotiator will be to accept the agreement offered,'" Kolenda writes.
Second, if multiple negotiations are happening in one day, primacy effects come into play. "When information is presented earlier in a sequence, it generates a stronger impact on long-term memory," Kolenda explains. This goes for job interviews, too. So get in the room early if you really want to make an impression.
3. Choose the right medium for your gender
Is it better to negotiate over email or face to face? The surprising answer, according to science, is it often depends on your gender. "Female negotiators receive better deals when they communicate face-to-face. Male negotiators receive better deals when they communicate via email," Kolenda reports, explaining the reasons (which, no shock, have to do with deeply ingrained gender stereotypes) in the complete post.
4. Avoid negotiating terminology
People tend to think of negotiations as aggressive and confrontational, but some of the best deals are reached when both sides work collaboratively. If you think that might be the case in your situation, avoid triggering the other side's combativeness by staying away from stereotypical negotiating language.
"Even simple words like 'accepting' and 'rejecting' can cause people to negotiate more aggressively (Larrick and Blount, 1997). To prevent aggressive behavior from your counterpart, avoid negotiation terminology. Always use words that depict cooperative behavior (e.g., 'collaborate,' 'work together,' 'brainstorm'). You should also incorporate first-person plural pronouns (e.g., 'us,' 'we,' 'our'). Those pronouns emphasize a shared goal with your counterpart, so you'll usually gain a more favorable deal (Perdue et al., 1990)," Kolenda says.
5. Schedule a future get together
It's hard(er) to be mean to people when you have to see them again. Use this simple fact to your advantage. "When possible, break up the negotiation into separate meetings. People negotiate less aggressively when they believe they'll be interacting with their counterpart again," Kolenda suggests, adding, "even if you plan to reach an agreement within one day, you could plan a subsequent meeting to review the contract. If you plan that second meeting beforehand, your counterpart will behave more cooperatively during the initial negotiation."
6. Bring donuts
Or coffee. Or pastries. As long as it's tasty and it's from you, it'll be seen as rapport building. That's straightforward, right? Not so fast, writes Kolenda, who calls this "the most devious technique in the entire article," before explaining how coming armed with baked goods can gain you a whopping four different advantages. Check out the complete post for the in-depth explanation.
7. Request a high but precise range
Kolenda offers a whole lengthy section on anchoring effects, including the following practical scenario. You're negotiating a job offer and want an $80,000 salary. What salary do you propose when asked? Kolenda offers four options:
- Backdown Range: You request $70k to $80k (with your target at the top)
- Bracketing Range: You request $75 to $85k (with your target in the middle)
- Bolstering Range: You request $80k to $90k (with your target at the bottom)
- Bump Up Point: You request $90k (a single high anchor point)
Which option is best? Research says it's the bolstering range because "ranges seem less rigid. You're more likely to reach an agreement (and the agreement will also be higher)." To do even better, consider using more precise numbers like $81,000 to $84,000. "Research has found that precise values cause people to adjust shorter distances from anchor points (Thomas and Morwitz, 2008). When your anchor is precise, your counterpart will remain closer to it," Kolenda says.