Theory Negotiation: Bargaining for Advantage

How to Deal with PeopleAnyone that reads my articles realizes I read many books, but today I want to focus on just one because I think it’s one of the best I have ever read. It is called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. There are many theories involving how we can best negotiate. In this article and the next I’ll go further into how we make decisions. Now I’ll briefly go through some of the amazing ideas brought up in this book.

How People Make Decisions

Because we live in an extremely complicated environment we use short cuts to make nearly every decision. Our mind flashes back to previous events instantly when a decision is to be made and we act accordingly based off of previous results. If you are able to understand the shortcuts that people use you are able to negotiate to your own advantage.

Like I wrote in previous articles on Indirect Hypnosis, familiarity in the presentation of information speaks more truth, than the facts presented. If you present information using a persons chosen meta-program they will be much more inclined to believe it, because it falls inline with their level of thinking. Here are my articles on Meta-Programs if you are unaware of that term.

Think of it this way. We can easily fall into the habit of going to the same restaurant or store, because it is familiar and you know what you will get there. We develop these habits because our brain likes to have access to shortcut solutions to problems. Hence, you feel hungry so go to McDonald’s. What many people don’t know is that we have numerous habits that we are unaware of.

The Power of Because

A study revealed that the word “because” holds an immense amount of power. It showed that most people are very likely to follow a direction just because the word “because” is used. I learned later that much of the power found in indirect hypnosis is provided with specific conjunctions, but I’ll get to that in a future article.

They had a woman go into a library and use different techniques to cut in line at a photo copier. Here are the results:

  • 60% of people let her cut line when she asked, “May I use the Xerox machine?”
  • 93% of people let her cut line when she asked, “May I use the Xerox because, I have to make some copies?”
  • 94% of people let her cut line when she asked, “May I use the Xerox, because I’m in a rush?”
  • Over 75% of people where inclined to conform when the person just said, “May I use the Xerox, because?”

Numerous other studies have also proven the power of conjunctions in influencing others. They are detailed in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.


By reciprocating, I just mean that when we are given a gift we are inclined to give one in return. This rule is responsible for the creation of societies across the planet. If people didn’t share we would have never created towns and then large metropolitan cities. Along time ago, we started sharing food for pottery and so forth. That tradition continues today. This rule is so powerful that there is a general distaste for anyone that takes and makes no effort to return in kind.

Studies where done to back up the power of Reciprocation. When a marketing company sent out a questionnaire with a check for $5, they received twice the number of returned questionnaires as those that promised a check for $50, upon receipt of the finished questionnaire.

The Krishna’s proved that by forcing an unwanted gift of a flower or pamphlet, they could dramatically increase their donations. They received so many donations that they were soon banned from airports all together. People could not trust themselves to not donate after a gift was given so laws were imposed to protect them from themselves.

Did you ever wonder why so many non-profits send address labels? The reason is that the inclusion of them spikes donations from 18% to 35%.

What is amazing is that we can get people to conform by offering them nothing, but a concession. 76% of people agreed to give blood once as a concession, after being asked to sign up to give blood on a regular basis.

On the other hand, when they where asked to give blood, without the use of a concession, only 29% agreed.

The Consistency Principle

While I agree that Reciprocation can be very powerful, it pails in comparison to the Consistency Principle. Once we make a choice, we will continue to pressure ourselves to behave consistently with that commitment. We have a need to remain consistent!

This pressure will force us to continue to act in ways that justify our past decisions. In fact a person that doesn’t follow this rule is labeled as mentally ill, by society.

Let me show you how toy companies dramatically increased sales by using the Consistency Principle. When the Cabbage Patch Kid’s were first introduced the toy companies had an amazing idea. Why don’t we heavily advertise them knowing that we won’t have enough on hand to satisfy demand? You see, prior to this product, toy companies made most of their sales during the Christmas holiday, but few through out the rest of the year. So they used the Consistency principle to create additional sales through out the rest of the year.

Here is how it works:

  • Children are heavily marketed to desire a specific toy.
  • The parent promises them they will get the toy for Christmas, over and over again.
  • The toy is not available for the parent to purchase.
  • The parent makes a substitute purchase so that there is something under the Christmas tree
  • When the toy becomes available in the future, the parent buys it because they feel obligated because of the past promise.

Studies have been done to test the Consistency Principle further. A group of people were solicited to fill out a questionnaire. One of the questions buried in it was, “If you were approached to donate 3 hours to a charity, would you?” If a person answered yes on that questionnaire the researchers found that they were 700% more likely to volunteer in the future, when asked versus another neighborhood that didn’t complete the questionnaire.

Do you Still not Believe in the Consistency Principle?

Another group of researchers, went to a neighborhood and asked people if they could put a large sign in their yard with the words “Drive Carefully” printed on it. 17% of people committed to allow this.

Another group first asked people if they could put a small 3 inch sign in their yard. When they returned and asked if they could put the large sign in the yard, 76% of people gave their approval. Why? Because to remain consistent with their previous implied belief that driving carefully was important, they felt the need to conform.

Want More Proof?

During the Korean War the Chinese were very successful at getting American soldiers to betray each other. They would rat out any soldiers planning to escape and betray classified military information. Why? The Chinese didn’t use the tool of torture, but instead the power of the Written Commitment. How was this accomplished:

  • Soldiers were first asked to make minor statements such as “America is not perfect.”
  • They were then asked to list the reasons America was not perfect.
  • Then they were asked to sign the list afterwords
  • Then read the list in a group atmosphere
  • Then to write an essay expanding on the list
  • Finally, the assays were recorded and broadcast for the other prisoners to hear

Like boiling a frog, the Chinese knew it would be easy to turn the soldiers, if they slowly turned up the commitment. But, why are written statements so effective? Well, they can easily be made public. Companies dramatically lower cancellations by getting customers to sign order forms, even though by law we are all given free look privileges.

You have probably been marketed to through the Consistency Principle and don’t even know it. Proctor & Gamble and many other companies regularly offer contests in which they ask people to write an essay explaining why they love their product. Does that sound familiar?

Do you Want to Improve Your Results with the Consistency Principle?

If you are able to make a person go through any level of pain to get something they tend to value it that much more. That is why hazing in college works so well. Giving a person a sore wrist after you force them to write a 2000 word essay also works.

Also to improve results, make sure the person knows the commitments:

  • Will be made public
  • Most be backed up actively
  • Will require future and present effort

That’s All Folks

Well that is it for now, but tomorrow I’ll go through the rest of the driving forces behind our decision making from the book Influence. If you have any questions leave them in the comment section below.

Till next time..

Think Tank

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