“Here’s How To Stop Biases From Killing Your Negotiation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“A bias, like a virus, can be devastating if left untreated.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Here’s How To Stop Biases From Killing Your Negotiation”

What’s your perception of the word, bias – is it good or bad? What thoughts does that word conjure up in your mind?

He negotiated with people from all ethnic and social backgrounds. And sometimes, his efforts were thwarted at the negotiation table. There always seemed to be something he’d not considered about the personality and history of the people with whom he’d negotiated. In some cases, he realized he wasn’t negotiating with someone; instead, they were negotiating against him – there’s a mindset difference between ‘with’ versus ‘against.’

And then, one day, the thought dawned on him. I’m not considering the biases of those I’m encountering at the negotiation table. And I don’t like how I feel when I think of the word, bias. I’ll think of it as being someone’s preference in the future. With that small mental shift, from that point forward, his mentality shifted. And that allowed him to alter how he negotiated with people.

The questions for you are, what biases or thoughts do you consider before entering a negotiation? And how quickly do you adopt the appropriate mental mind-shift and strategy to match the demeanor that confronts you? The thoughts you ponder and the speed at which you do will determine how successful you are.


  • Identify the source of biases or the label you choose for it for yourself and those with whom you negotiate. If you don’t, you decrease the probability of addressing a situation successfully.
    • Is it from a social circle? Social circles can impact a person differently than a business or a more personal relationship. Thus, when one displays an influencing preference from their social associates, they’re also revealing a choice for wanting to be accepted by those in that environment. That’s worth noting because, once you identify someone’s number one source of motivation, you’ll have insight into how you might use that person’s preferences to advantage your position (e.g., you might cite the group’s norms, and highlight that your negotiation counterpart’s viewpoint is outside of those norms. And then you might suggest that the group would not think highly of him.) You can adopt the same strategy once you identify someone’s other sources of motivation. It’s akin to identifying their Achilles heel. Once you know what it is, all you have to do is wait for the right time to exploit it.
  • Is it something ingrained from childhood? When intense childhood traumas or beliefs are adopted and accepted by those whose minds are impressionable, those beliefs can leave an indelible imprint on that person’s outlook about himself and others. Thus, dealing with such an individual may require more patience and understanding, especially if that’s the cause of their interaction consternation. They may display a strong preference to an unyielding point of view that sways outside the boundaries of the norm, which can serve to highlight a furthering degree of challenges you’ll have in dealing with them.

When you encounter this individual type, if such is warranted, be patient. Let this person speak and ramble to expend his thoughts. One aspect of this personality type is, he wants you to hear him. He wants others to understand him and the way he sees his world. Once he believes you comprehend his viewpoint, he’ll be more apt to open up. It’s at that point that you’ll have the opportunity to address him, his preferences, and pointing him in the direction of your choosing.  

  • What are his norms, and how far do they extend? Another aspect to keep in mind when dealing with someone’s bias is, what rules do they abide by, and what views do they hold as truths. While some people adhere to standards, others are constrained by them, and they rebel.

Once you’ve identified this individual’s driving source, agree with them to the point of having your agreement serve your purposes. And break with them, to shock or to display strong disagreement, when it becomes appropriate. Your efforts should be geared at bonding when possible and breaking it when necessary. You’d do that to display at one point you’ll break the bond when you perceived his views to be out of bounds. If executed stealthily, you’ll lead the other person without them realizing what’s occurred. At that point, be sure not to give the impression that you’re attempting to take advantage of him. If he senses that, all trust will be lost and you would have wasted your efforts to that point.

Name It

Biases are perceptional. Thus, you should call it for what it is. It’s crucial to identify and give extreme biases a name. That cruciality in naming it becomes heightened when dealing with people that have widely separate views about an issue. Because in a worst-case scenario, when dealing with hot button issues or other inflammatory matters, logic can step aside in someone’s mind and become replaced by raw emotions(e.g., supremacy, gender, sexual preferences, etc.). Then, reasoning becomes abandoned. And that’s the reason to get everything you’re dealing with on the table, so there’s no ambiguity.

Once again, to deal with a challenge successfully, you must know the insight of that challenge. And the person with whom you’re interacting must know that you know, and he buys into, understanding what the two of you are addressing and why. Thus, the more the two of you are viewing a situation from the same perspective, even if you don’t initially agree on the severity of how things stack up, you have a point of understanding from which to proceed.


Anytime you deal with someone, you’re also dealing with their emotions, which stem from their biases. To better deal with them, understand the basis of their preferences and how that drives their feelings and choices. Once you do, you’ll be able to control them and the negotiation. And everything will be right with the world.

Click here to watch a short video on controlling emotions in a negotiation.

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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