“Everyone is biased to a degree. It’s the degree that we recognize our biases and how they affect our thoughts that allow us to benefit, or not benefit, from them.” –Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
How do you control your bias in negotiations? Do you even lend thoughts to how you’re being influenced by your biases in your negotiations?
Everyone is biased to a degree. It’s the degree that we recognize our biases and how they affect our thoughts that allow us to benefit from them. Since our biases can shield us from harm or prevent us from experiencing opportunities, we have to be very mindful of the influence they have on our actions during a negotiation.
The following are ways in which you can improve your negotiation efforts based on the recognition and control you maintain over your biases.
- “… but that’s not what he said!” When you’re involved in a negotiation, consider how your biases impact your interpretation of what’s discussed. To the degree you have preconceived notions and/or opinions about what’s being negotiated, you’ll seek confirmation of what’s stated to match your notions. Stated in another manner, you’ll seek to define in your mind what’s said based on what you ‘want’ to be the truth. That can be dangerous; you may miss vital insight and information because what’s being said doesn’t meet your expectations.
- To thwart the effects of what’s known as confirmation biases first, recognize the fact that you are predisposed to certain beliefs then, reflect on how keeping an open mind will allow you to assess new data without initially being judgmental about it. In essence, think about the way you’re thinking per the biases you possess. If you alter your thoughts and place your biases in a ‘time out’ area of your mind, you’ll be able to see offers/counteroffers from another perspective. That altered perspective may be what’s needed to get you past an impasse.
- Understand your emotional state when assessing your biases. During the flow of a negotiation, things may get heated. At such times, unknowingly you may subconsciously refer to a time in your mind when someone took advantage of you in such a situation. As such, this time, you dig your heels in and become very determined to fight like heck. Your subconscious thought is, I won’t let what happened to me before happen again.
- Be mindful of your point of reference. To add additional insight to point number 3 above, always consider your point of reference as to what you’re comparing your current situation (offer/counteroffer) to and why. Understand the point of comparison reference will give you more insight per why one aspect of an offer may be more or less appealing.
When analyzing and assessing offers/counteroffers in a negotiation, every negotiator is biased to some degree. So, when contemplating offers/counteroffers, consider if you’re being biased and if so, why. By doing so, you’ll be more alert to the degree of influence biases are having on your decisions. You’ll be able to also identify the source of your biases per how they’re influencing your decision-making process. That will prove to be a point from which you’ll be able to make better negotiation decisions … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!