Persuasion and negotiation
This will be my last post about Hargie’s book. I covered many aspects of ‘the skill of persuasion’ in a previous post, but that chapter had a lot of stuff, so I’ve included a little more from that chapter below, as well as some stuff from the chapter on negotiation (on the other hand I decided not to talk about the second-to-last ‘skills in groups’ chapter at all, because that chapter was so terrible it made me want to beat up the author). A lot of the non-theoretical stuff in the negotiation chapter is incidentally based on a single study (the Rackham study), so some caution is probably warranted when you’re interpreting findings in this area.
“the phenomenon of reactance […] refers to the reaction we have to the imposition of restrictions on our freedom. Such reaction involves a combination of anger and negative cognitions, such as counter-arguing and source derogation […] Reactance can be reduced by various strategies. What is known as the but you are free to accept or to refuse technique has been shown to increase the success of a request […]. Here, the agent makes a request but adds the caveat that the person has the freedom to refuse. Having been given this ‘increased’ freedom, people feel more in control and less under duress, with the result that they become more acquiescent. Likewise, acknowledging resistance increases compliance. By simply saying ‘I know you might not want to, but . . .’ before making the request the agent can increase the number of people who comply. […] When we are threatened by something being denied to us, we react to this threat by experiencing an increased desire for the restricted item. Indeed, the more restricted an item, the greater tends to be its appeal. […] A key implication of this is that we can persuade others to do something by convincing them that there is scarcity value attached to it. […] There are three important factors attached to scarcity value: […] Resources attain an even greater value when they are seen to be newly scarce. […] If we have to compete for the scarce resource it attains even greater attraction in our eyes. […] Losses are more influential than gains. […] Thus, the prospect of something becoming scarce as a result of losing it motivates us more than the thought of gaining something of equal value.”
“A powerful human drive is the desire to be regarded as consistent. We have a need to show others that we mean what we say and will do what we promise. This means that once we have made a public declaration of commitment to a course of action we are more likely to rate it highly and continue with it. A ubiquitous strategy in many organisations and institutions is to get people to make such a declaration. […] once people perform a certain behaviour or publicly state a point of view they are then more likely to infer in retrospect that they really believe in what they said or did […]. In reviewing this area Cialdini (2001: 96) concluded: ‘Commitments are most effective when they are active, public, effortful, and viewed as internally motivated (uncoerced).’ […] If the behaviour has been freely chosen, the individual is more committed to it. There is now a huge volume of research to show that freedom of choice is a central factor in the influence equation.”
“One way of ensuring that people stay committed to the message they have recently been persuaded to adopt is to get them to proselytise about it. This tactic is used by many religions and cults. […] Having to ‘sell’ the message means that it becomes cognitively embedded and resistant to change. It is more difficult later to reject that which you have publicly and vehemently espoused. […] People also rate the strength and depth of their belief or attitude based upon the extent of effort they have shown to it in the past. […] We are heavily influenced by commitments that are irrevocable. If there is a possibility that we can change our minds, the alternatives may linger and eventually influence our behaviour. However, if the deed is final, we are more likely to become convinced of its worth.”
“The main decisions to be made during a negotiation encounter can be interpreted in terms of a ‘negotiation decision tree’ […]. The first decision is whether or not to enter into negotiation at all. […] If a decision is taken not to negotiate, then the […] Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) should already have been formulated. […] Two aspects of the BATNA are important. First, the opposing side may attempt to moderate your perceptions of your BATNA in a negative fashion. […] Second, you should attempt to ascertain what the other side’s BATNA is, and be aware that they may not tell the truth about this.”
“Rackham (2007) found that skilled negotiators were significantly more likely to plan in terms of a settlement range (e.g. ‘I’d like 30 per item but would settle for 26 minimum.’), whereas average negotiators planned around a fixed point (e.g. ‘I want to get 28 per item.’). It has also been shown that negotiators obtain better results if they focus their efforts upon achieving their target point rather than concentrating upon not going below their resistance point [“This is the bottom line beyond which you decide that a deal will not be done”] […]. Some research has found that males tend to set higher target points than females, and so achieve higher gains. […] females who make higher demands tend to be evaluated more negatively than males who negotiate at the same level […] It is important to remember that the other party has target and resistance points. Deals will be struck somewhere between the two sets of resistance points, and so this is known as the settlement range. […] One of the first things an experienced negotiator attempts to do is to ascertain the target and resistance points of the other side, so a deal can be made that is closer to the opponent’s resistance point.”
“A significant finding is that negotiators often reciprocate each other’s use of strategies and tactics […]. This process, where the approach adopted by one side causes the other to reciprocate, is known as entrainment […]. if one party seems frosty and adopts a rather belligerent opening stance, it is likely that the other will follow suit; threats will provoke counter-threats, demands counter-demands and so on. On the other hand, a more integrative, cooperative and amenable approach is also likely to be responded to in kind (Weingart et al., 1999).”
“breakdowns in the negotiation process can often be traced back to a lack of time devoted to initial exploration and clarification of demands, needs and wants.”
“there is evidence from distributive negotiation that if the seller makes the initial offer, the settlement price is higher than if the buyer makes the initial offer”
“Concessions lead to position loss, which can be interpreted as a willingness to compromise and be cooperative. However, if too many are conceded too quickly this can result in image loss where the person is viewed as someone weak and easily manipulated. Interestingly, Morris et al. (1999) discovered that negotiators often attribute the bargaining behaviour of the other party to personality and personal predispositions (e.g. disagreeableness, truculence) rather than to the circumstances of the negotiation with which they are confronted. Such misperception can evoke a more hostile response, if a lack of willingness to compromise is attributed to the other party being seen as an obstinate or greedy individual, as opposed to being interpreted as due to the fact that the organisation to which the person belongs has given strict guidelines about what can and cannot be negotiated. A core dimension of negotiation is the ability to persuade the opposition to make concessions.”
“Bargainers should: • not concede too readily • make concessions as small as possible • monitor the number and rate of concession making • link concessions to an image of firmness.
Bargainers should not: • concede too soon in the negotiations • make the first main concession • make unilateral concessions
• make large initial concessions – this is likely to give an impression of weakness • concede without due consideration of the positive and negative consequences for both parties • always engage in reciprocal concessions. A concession by the other side may be justified in its own right […] The most effective negotiators are those who, as well as being able to think logically, can also understand and control their emotions […] High levels of anger have been shown to be destructive to the negotiation process”
“Rackham (2007) found that skilled negotiators asked over twice as many questions as average negotiators. Questions serve several important functions in negotiations. A primary purpose is to gather detailed information about the other side and their aspirations and concerns. They also allow the questioner to control the focus and flow of the interaction […] When one side has put forward an argument it is likely that a blunt statement of disagreement will increase their antagonism and aggression and make them less likely to give in. […] The calm presentation of counter-arguments, without a public statement of negation, encourages logical debate such that the eventual acceptance of alternative proposals then involves much less loss of face. It is therefore a useful general rule to always give reasons before (or as an alternative to) expressing disagreement.”
“A mistake made by inexperienced negotiators is to respond to a proposal with an immediate counterproposal […] Rackham (2007) found that skilled negotiators used about 50 per cent fewer counterproposals than average negotiators. Counterproposals are not recommended in negotiation […] Less skilled negotiators tend to give more reasons to justify their bids. This is not good practice since the more reasons that are proffered, the better chance the opposition has of finding and highlighting a weakness in at least one of them. […] Rackham (2007) argued that this is because weaker arguments tend to dilute stronger ones. […] Skilled negotiators tended to put forward one reason at a time and would only introduce another reason if they were in danger of losing ground.”
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