“Do Not Let The Perception Of ‘Fair’ Blow Your Mind” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Perception becomes a reality when you accept as reality what you perceive.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Do Not Let The Perception Of ‘Fair’ Blow Your Mind”

“We’ve been at this for a while. My offer is a good one. And it’s fair. What do you think? Let’s shake on it and close the deal.” That’s what one negotiator said to the other after they’d engaged in a lengthy negotiation.

Using the word, fair, was how that negotiator had altered the mental perception of the person with whom he was negotiating. And the opposition never realized how subliminally that negotiator had created the perception of fairness, just by using the word, fair.

Don’t allow someone to blow your mind subliminally. To guard against it, raise your guard the moment someone says, let’s be fair. Better yet, beat them to the point by subliminally shaping their perception before they have the opportunity to do that to you. And here’s how to do just that.  


Perception becomes a reality when you accept as reality what you perceive. When a negotiator suggests that you and she address a negotiation by being fair, what she’s really doing is suggesting that you be reasonable and open-minded. Of course, the definition of reasonableness and open-mindedness is open to interpretation.

Thus, the message she’s implanting in your subconscious is, be fair-minded about the offers I make. From which the implied message is, and I’ll be fair with you. That suggestion is very powerful, which is why you should be on guard when you hear it. If you lower your guard by not exploring what that means, you could be unknowingly submitting mental control to her. And that submission could be prevalent and dangerous for you throughout the negotiation.

Subliminal Messaging:

Subliminal messaging was first delved into back in the 1800s. But the exploration of it didn’t gain popularity until the 1950s. The principle upon which it works is associated with how you relate suggested thoughts to the knowledge you already possess. Those suggestions can occur subliminally, which means you’re not aware of them at your conscious state of mind. Thus, if you experience a sensation that recalls a past occurrence, you may become stimulated to engage in a thought process that leads you to a particular action.  

Everyone receives subliminal messages in their daily activities. It can be in the form of something you smell, eat, or drink. And, it can also be in the pronouncement of a particular word, or something you see. The point is, subliminal messages continuously bombard you. And for the most part, you’re unaware of them, although you act on some of them.

That’s the reason why you can quickly become subliminally manipulated when someone asks you to be fair. The request can conjure up righteousness, amenability, and respect for a process. The hidden message beneath the appeal is, why would you be mean and unlike civil individuals. And if you’re not on guard, you’ll fall to the behest of the requester. Once a negotiator has your mind directed on being fair, they can recall your commitment to it when you haggle over a point.  

Combating Appearance of Fairness:

There are two ways to address the speer of fairness. One is to preempt its use by the other negotiator against you. To do that, at the onset of the negotiation, be the one to pose the question first about being fair. As an example, you can say, I look forward to a negotiation that, in the end, both of us will be glad to have partaken. Because I’m going to be fair and I know you will be fair-minded too, right? Make sure you get an agreeable answer. That will be the opening volley upon which you’ll be able to layer additional commitments as you go deeper into the negotiation. 

The other way to address the fairness issue is to establish boundaries by defining what being fair will look like throughout the negotiation. While this should be done anyway, in the second aspect of using it, you’d define fairness in your planning stage. And, you should attempt to subliminally implant that thought in the mind of the other negotiator.

As an example, during an initial conversation, discuss how you and the other negotiator will engage in the negotiation. You might say, I sense that this is going to be a fair negotiation. Do you have the same sensation? If your counterpart is hesitant in replying, explore why she might have reservations. It’s always best to expose apprehension and her thoughts as soon as you discover she may be apprehensive about fairness. Once you have her agreement, and you know the two of you share the same perspective, in every conversation you have after that, casually invoke the thought of fairness into the discussion. The more she hears, fair, the deeper that thought will become ingrained in her mind.   


Many things can blow your mind in a negotiation. Don’t let the perception of not being a fair negotiator be one of them. To insulate yourself from that happening, either set the pace by issuing the fairness request first, or guard against the other negotiator using it against you. On second thought, play both sides of that field. Be the first to issue the request and defend against its use on you. You’ll be double protected. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

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

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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