“Leaders Social Proof Advice How To Overcome And Win Negotiations” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Social proof is only worth social value to the degree others believe it. Thus believability is the real driver of social proof.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

Click here to get the book!

“Leaders Social Proof Advice

How To Overcome And Win Negotiations”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Leaders, is social proof serving you, or is it disadvantaging your negotiation? Regardless of how effective leaders are, they seek social proof from others about their actions to guide their behavior and decision-making – especially in negotiations.

That makes social proof a powerful tool in negotiations per how it influences a leader’s actions. Some leaders who rely too heavily on social proof may find themselves disadvantaged in negotiations if they accept validation from others and become swayed by the social evidence it presents.

This article explores why leaders should learn to evaluate the benefits of social proof before accepting it as a reason to adopt actions – and how doing so will improve their negotiation efforts.

The Psychological Workings Of Social Proof

First, it’s crucial to understand how social proof works. Social proof is the idea that people are more likely to conform to the behavior of others when they are uncertain about how to behave in a particular situation. That is why some people unsure about what action to take tend to follow the crowd, even when they don’t necessarily agree with the group’s behavior or decision. The thought they are driven by is there’s safety in numbers – follow the herd.

While social proof can be helpful in certain situations, it can pose a negotiation problem. That might occur when leaders rely too heavily on social proof to conform to the opinions of others, even when it’s to their detriment.

Imagine you are negotiating with an entity of notoriety and witnessing the adulations others bestowed on them on social media. Would that shift your perspective of them? Now imagine that social media manipulation contrived the social proof of their positive attributes, and you can see the dilemma a negotiator might face during negotiations. 

Overcoming Social Proof And Enhancing Negotiation

In negotiations, leaders need to learn to overcome social proof to avoid being led blindly by it. And as in all negotiations, one must be aware of the biases and thought patterns that influence their actions. By understanding that, leaders can become more aware of when social proof affects them and take steps to counteract it.

Another way to overcome social proof is to cultivate a mindset of curiosity and skepticism. Instead of accepting the prevailing opinions of others, ask questions and seek alternative perspectives. That will help leaders make more informed decisions and avoid being swayed by others’ opinions.

How Leaders Can Use Social Proof To Improve Negotiations

Leaders can also use social proof to their benefit in negotiations. How? By demonstrating that others have already agreed to their terms in the past. Doing that can create a sense of momentum and inevitability that can be persuasive to the other party.

Imagine you are the leader, negotiating with followers and asking them to go above and beyond their prior actions. They grumble, and you discover they feel you will get all the glory. In that negotiation scenario, you could point to the comments that others you led made expounding your positive attributes when it comes to you highlighting your team’s efforts and sharing the glory with them. That will ease concerns about you hogging all the glory for yourself.

Another way leaders can use social proof to their benefit is to gather data and evidence to support their position ahead of a negotiation. That could include statistics and testimonials from sources respected by those the leader seeks to influence. By presenting this evidence to the other parties, the leader can create a strong case for why their proposal is the best option.


While social proof can be a powerful tool in influencing the actions of others, it can also be a hindrance in negotiations. Thus, leaders relying too heavily on social proof may be less likely to question prevailing opinions, leading to poor decision-making. But at the same time, leaders can use social proof to benefit themselves during negotiations.

So, if you are a leader and know there is a loose plank (social proof) on a bridge (negotiation) you must cross, fear not the bridge. Just be mindful of that loose plank. It is the link to advance or hinder your efforts. And everything will be right with the world. 

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

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

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/negotiation-speaker/   and sign up at the bottom of the page

Scroll to Top