“How To Uncover Biases To Boost More Wins And Negotiation Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Some people believe biases serve them, but unless tested, one never knows for sure.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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Biases affect the flow of negotiations as they transport the mental attitudes of negotiators. This article offers ways to uncover biases, yours and those you negotiate with, and enable you to increase your negotiation skills. With that heightened ability, you can negotiate more strategically and become more formidable.

The following will expose a bias you have. “This is a test!” Upon reading or hearing those words, what are your immediate thoughts? Whatever they were, you fostered your thoughts based on biases accumulated over your lifetime. And based on your biases, at minimum, subliminally, you just added another node to them.

Biases affect all aspects of your life. During negotiations, to negotiate more effectively, you must be mindful of their influence on your decision process; you should also be aware of their impact on the person you are dealing with.   

What Purpose Do Biases Serve

Biases allow our brains to make quicker decisions without entering analytical mode. In a current environment, someone sees or hears something they liked or disliked in the past. Their brain can invoke biases that lead to believing the current situation is the same, or not, as the past. Thus, they save their analytical brain the steps of evaluating the present situation.  

In some negotiations, since the brain has a limited capacity to make lucrative decisions throughout the process, the brain’s workload is reduced by making fewer choices when a negotiator invokes biases. That reinforces the brain’s desire to continue using biases or whatever approach the negotiator uses to address situations. They do so because that manner serves them. Thus, as a negotiator, be mindful of what drives your thoughts.

Uncovering Biases

First, to uncover biases, you must recognize their presence. That can become challenging because most biases lie within someone’s subconsciousness. But you can glean insight into someone’s biases based on how they interact with you, initially, during interactions, and at a point of departure.

From a body language or nonverbal perspective, observe their gestures as you discuss different topics. Note when they smile, frown, or grimace, the degree to which they do so, and when they physically pull back, even if it is slight. That recognition will grant insight into the possible inner thoughts they are contemplating.

At some point during the conversation, you might seek to confirm your observations by saying, “I see that pleases or displeases you. Why?” If an individual issues a response asking why you think that, you may ask if your assumptions are accurate or tell them what you perceived.

In either case, you will receive feedback verbally and via their body language in their response. Continue to probe to uncover the possibility of more biases. 

Strategies To Challenge And Test Biases

Once you have identified biases that influence one’s decision-making process, you can create strategies for dealing with them. Depending on what they are, you may:

1. To compete against biases, challenge the assumptions one has about them and confront the person (yourself included) who holds them. In confronting someone, including yourself, follow the suggestions mentioned in the uncovering biases section.

At some point, ask why they have such thoughts, their origin, and how biases impact their thinking; gear your attempts towards gaining more insight about someone’s biases so you can alter their perspective if doing so serves your purpose.

You might pose a challenging aspect based on the negotiation flow, ranging from mild to harsh. Understand that your method of challenge will alter the flow of thinking that a person has. Thus, you may receive unexpected consequences if you challenge too soft or hard. Be prepared for such and be ready to modify your position to one that is appropriate.   

2. You can create a framework that helps you quickly evaluate relevant information charts (e.g., pro versus con, price-to-earnings, risk versus rewards, etc.). Then, when you encounter a bias, test it by measuring its viability against the framework you created. That should give you greater insight into its practicality. Then, determine the path forward.

3. Before a negotiation, you may identify mentors, thought leaders, etc., that carry sway with yourself or someone you will negotiate with to discuss their biases about particular matters. Contrast that against how those individuals cast aside such beliefs and how they benefited from doing so.

The purpose is to create doubt in yourself or those in the negotiation about the value of biases and the consequences of maintaining them. If the painted picture is bleak enough, one will become more open to change.


In negotiations, biases can be good, challenging, or nonserving. The assumed value, or lack thereof, is made by biases’ impact on you and others during negotiations and life.

Accordingly, if you understand how you and those you interact with are motivated by biases and learn to uncover and deal with them appropriately, you will be on a better track to control negotiations and their outcomes. You will also increase your negotiation skills. And everything will be right with the world.

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

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