There is a nice piece about confidence from Daniel Kahneman in last week’s New York Times Magazine. It’s definitely worth a read before you head into your next negotiation. Especially if you happen to think you’re 100% right and they’re 100% wrong.
Your best friend, your brain, has to sift through a lot of information in any given day, even when you’re not in the midst of a Halloween Movie horror-o-thon. Part of how it figures out how to process all of that information is by chunking it up into smaller bits. Those smaller bits are accepted or rejected as important based on whether your brain deems them to be valuable. Rather than closely analyze each bit, your brain uses short cuts; heuristics in fancy psychological language. The theory of interest based negotiations finds its origin in a paper Kahneman and Amos Tversky did on judgement and decision making heuristics in 1974.
But back to that part about how you’re wrong.
Your brain is very invested in its little process working, so when it gets a piece of information that seems to contradict an opinion you hold near and dear, an opinion that your brain helped form with its selective chunking, it rejects it. Full on Jedi “These Are Not The Droids You’re Looking For” rejects it. Your brain protects you from the horrible realization that you might very well be wrong.
Which means you aren’t rational. Even when you try especially hard to be.
That also means that neither is the other side in any negotiation you’re having. They are reacting to what they believe, what their brain has told them, to be right. And if you insist on persuading them by telling them that they are wrong because you are right, you will get nowhere and fast.
So don’t. Show them how your solution makes sense from their perspective. Use your knowledge of their interests, needs, wants and desires to present your argument in a way their brain is more likely to accept as valuable. Use their brain to make your argument.
Featured image by aweigend via Flickr.com.