Back to: STRATEGY & TACTICS
What is the role of “persuasion” as a tactic in a negotiation?
In the absence of power to control a negotiation and coerce another party, a skilled negotiator must use tactics to persuade the other party. Persuasive tactics are generally separated into “central route” and “peripheral route”.
• Central-route persuasion tactics – These include direct, mindful, information-based routes to persuasion. Generally think central-route persuasion as invoking deep thought on the topic through logic and emotion. Examples of central-route persuasion tactics include:
⁃ Control agenda – Lay out issues in a manner that reflects one’s own interests. Try to garner information and discuss with the other party what may be a hidden agenda.
⁃ Generate alternatives – Generate multiple alternatives for a bargaining issue that benefit one’s self or that are of equal value to you. Present multiple alternatives to allow the other party to evaluate and select among the available options. The power of contrast (the psychological contrast effect) can make one option appear more favorable when presented alongside seemingly lesser options. For this purpose, try to invent irrelevant alternatives for the counterparty to consider.
⁃ Influence understanding – Attempt to influence the other party’s interests or understanding of their alternatives. This is generally achieved by selecting presenting attributes of the interests at stake. Even presenting interests and alternatives in a given order can prove persuasive.
⁃ Commitment and consistency (the consistency principle) – Commit to one’s message (based upon beliefs, feelings, etc.). There is a fundamental human tendency to be consistent in one’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, not only to others, but also to ourselves. Interjecting such elements into a negotiation message contains both peripheral and central route persuasion.
⁃ Reframe the negotiation – Reframing the negotiation can shift the focus on interests. It can stop an individual from becoming entrenched in a position or perspective. This is important if a party’s resistance point is not within the zone of potential agreement.
⁃ Evoke fairness heuristics – Fairness or rights in a negotiation are a primary motivation for a negotiator. Egocentric bias is a negotiator’s tendency to focus on themselves. Creating a sense of empathy as to what is fair can alter the path of negotiation.
⁃ Apply time pressure – Time pressure can affect an individual’s processing of an option. Specifically, it has been shown to cause hasty and irrational decisions.
• Peripheral route persuasion tactics – These tactics, rather than use cognitive or mindful work, they employ automatic responses to subtle cues to persuade. The.
⁃ Leverage Status – An individual’s status or position in an organization or society can lend itself to persuasiveness. Primary status characteristics are indicators of legitimate authority that are relevant to accomplishing a specific task; e.g., rank, title, previous experience, etc. Secondary status characteristics (or pseudo-status characteristics) are highly-visible, personal qualities (such as sex, age, or ethnicity) that have little to do with a person’s authority, legitimacy, or ability, but are often treated as though they do.
⁃ Leverage Gender – Recognizing cultural stereotypes (or exposing negative stereotypes) can provide advantage in a negotiation.
⁃ Social networks – This regards the tendency of individuals to follow the herd. A negotiator who is part of a social network is likely to be influenced by the actions, decisions, and beliefs of those in the network.
⁃ Social proof – This is a situation in which we look to the behavior of others to determine what is desirable, appropriate, or correct.
⁃ Physical appearance – Individuals have a tendency to associate closely with individuals who have a similar physical appearance. This aids in understanding, communication, and can aid in the effectiveness of persuasive tactics. Further, some individuals show a level of submissiveness to individuals of far larger stature.
⁃ Priming the pump – The process by which subtle cues and information in the environment can impact our behavior (at a level below our conscious awareness). Wearing colors, hanging art, using descriptive words are just example of subtle cues that can influence an individual’s perceptions in a situation.
⁃ Reciprocity – This is the practice of showing others the deference that they show us. If a negotiator is accommodating or makes a concession, the other party is likely to reciprocate.
⁃ Reactance technique – A negotiation strategy also known popularly as “reverse psychology,” wherein a negotiator plays on the opponent’s innate need to assert his or her individual freedom when it is threatened or controlled.
⁃ Foot-in-the-door technique – A technique in which a person is asked to agree to a small favor and then is confronted with a larger request. People who accede to the small favor first are more likely to agree to the larger request later.
⁃ Door-in-the-face technique (or rejection-then-retreat tactic) – A persuasion tactic in which a person makes an initial, extreme request to another party, making it more likely that they will secure agreement to a subsequent, smaller request.
⁃ That’s-not-all technique (or sweetening the deal) – This is a technique in which negotiators will offer to add more to a negotiated package or deal in order to persuade the other party to accept it.