“8 More New Priming Tips – How to Boost Your Negotiation Powers” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Negotiation priming creates the hypnotic stage from which the melodic sounds of negotiation success beckons.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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Priming in negotiation helps negotiators boost their negotiation powers. Since negotiation requires tact, strategy, and a great understanding of human behavior, priming becomes the source that ties those components together.

In this article, I spotlight what priming is, how to employ it, and how you can benefit from it to boost your negotiation powers and skills.

What Is Negotiation Priming?

Priming is a psychological occurrence where exposure to specific prompts influences succeeding actions. In negotiation, priming refers to stealthily shaping someone’s perspective and expectations before and during the negotiation process. Through priming, negotiators can create an environment for a more satisfactory outcome as they control the mental aspects of the proceedings.

How Might You Use Priming In Negotiation?

Visualize that you are about to negotiate with some entity. Before doing so, you state your position and outline your perspective. Through that act, you have primed the other negotiator about what to expect from you during the negotiation, which causes them to create the expectations they will have for themselves. The feedback they provide reshapes the expectations of the talks. Thus, the cycle of priming evolves. The negotiator who is most adept at it will produce more sway during the engagement.  

Here’s how you might use priming as a tool of influence:

1. First Impression Mindset: When approaching negotiation with preconceived thoughts about your counterpart’s toughness or amenability, your expectations become self-fulfilling, which can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. That means you would be priming yourself according to how you plan to engage. If that is not your intention, be aware of your thoughts and where they lead you.

2. Word Associations: Research indicates that exposing negotiators to competitive words can lead to competitive negotiation actions. People unconsciously associate words with specific ideas and thoughts. For example, suppose you use terms related to rivalry (e.g., “triumph,” “fight,” “contest”). In that case, your negotiation opposite may assume a more competitive stance, causing the negotiation to become more tenuous. Word choice matters when priming your opponent. Thus, be mindful of the words you use to do so.

3. Behavioral Influence: Stating particular words or ideas can also engender behavior fluctuations, once again (e.g., “triumph,” “fight,” “contest” can cause the opposition to adopt a defensive body language posture – implying they are ready to battle. Notice the next time you have a mood shift due to something someone said or did. You will be experiencing priming.

4. Cultural Considerations: Heighten your senses of awareness regarding priming as you deal with people from different cultures. A word, phrase, or gesture in one culture may have a completely different meaning than you intended – sometimes having a negative connotation.

Suffice it to say different cultures have different negotiation customs and standards. Understanding cultural cues, adapting your approach, and doing so adeptly can significantly impact negotiation outcomes. Thus, before negotiating, understand the outcome you seek through priming. Match the right words to deliver the maximum effect based on the cultural background of those you are engaging with.

Subliminal Ways To Use Priming in Negotiation

Many years ago, I was a professional blackjack player; I did not know about priming then. As I neared the doors of a casino, heard the bellowing sound of the slot machines that sounded like a cacophony of mistimed musical melodies, and glimpsed the bright lights, I felt my heartbeat quicken, and the palms of my hands became moist. My mind was preparing my body for battle. The casinos were subliminally priming me, and I had not even entered their environment.

How might you subliminally prime the opposition?

5. Temperature control: If you have control of the negotiation environment, you can control the environment’s temperature. Once, I sat in a negotiation where the room became colder, darn near freezing, when it was not going in the opposition’s favor; we were negotiating in the opposition’s environment. Then, the room’s temperature became warmer when matters were more favorable to their liking.

It was not until the negotiation concluded that we discovered the other negotiator was controlling the temperature of the room – cold when we were not warm to their proposals and comfortable when we were more obliging. They used heat and cold to prime us subliminally.

6. Music/Noises/Scents: Negotiators can use music, noises, and scents to accomplish the same subliminal effects as the negotiator by controlling the temperature. Quietly and slowly increase the music at specific points in the negotiation when the flow is not in your favor, and you can create an annoyance.

You may have heard of this tactic applied against a dangerous person who barricaded themselves, and the authorities did not want to risk rushing in to confront them. Instead, they played deafening loud music to make the person succumb to their will.

Benefits of Using Priming Techniques

7. Increased Confidence: When you understand the power and how to use priming, your confidence becomes enhanced. You will possess a secret negotiation weapon.

8. Foster Faster Agreements: You can use priming to ensure cooperation while controlling the negotiation flow. Do that using words that imply togetherness to the opposition (i.e., we versus I or you). When both parties feel aligned, they reach agreements quicker.


Priming can become your secret weapon in negotiation, increasing your negotiation advantages while boosting your negotiation powers. Since you can use it to alter perceptions, affect behavior, and set the tone for successful outcomes, I suggest you use it in your next negotiation. When you do and incorporate the new priming tips I’ve mentioned, you will become amazed as your negotiation powers and skills soar. And everything will be right with the world.

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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