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This Is Your Brain On Negotiation

We often think of marketing as advertising – picturing Don Draper in his Madison Avenue office overlooking New York City, thinking up the cleverest way to talk about cigarettes. When thinking about the human brain, however, there are so many different ways to “market” your product or service through psychology. These marketing ideas can also be applied to negotiations and how you present your offer.

On a recent episode of Negotiations Ninja podcast, I talked with Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence, and more recently, Friction. In both of his books, Roger looks deeply into how we can influence sales through human psychology from various angles.

Evolutionary psychologists have claimed that our brains are programmed to pay attention to stories. Going back to caveman days, people would go out, do their hunting and gathering for the day, and report back with the story of their experience. This was how they learned and adapted. One person would experience something and report back to save everyone from experiencing the same thing, or to allow them to learn something new. Because of this piece of our evolutionary history, our brains know that through stories, we can learn and possibly protect ourselves.

“If you want to exercise mind control over somebody, telling them a story is about the best way to do that,” says Roger. Think about applying this to your next negotiation. Tell the story of the situation. Instead of breaking it down into numbers or facts, create a narrative.

Positioning is also important in creating a mindset for your customer/negotiation opponent. People love a deal. Companies will often set prices higher than needed, and then apply a discount to trigger the part of the brain that wants to pay less than it is “worth.” Apply this to negotiations by setting expectations on a higher cost, and then appeal to their subconscious by offering a lower cost.

It’s important to attempt this in a fashion that is not deceptive or misleading to the customer/opponent because another psychological aspect in marketing is trust. Roger says that by showing your customers you trust them they will trust you in return. In a negotiation, showing the opposing party that you trust they have your best interests in mind may insight some pressure to work toward your best interests.

When thinking of marketing, think beyond traditional practices. Think of how people think, what triggers our brains to buy things, and in the case of negotiation, how you can make someone understand your side. Think of creating a narrative, positioning your case, and building up trust.

To hear my conversation with Roger Dooley, subscribe to Negotiations Ninja podcast.