“The silent psychology colors have on negotiations can illuminate or darken the perception of a negotiator’s efforts, which depends on how they use colors in negotiations.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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Colors impact negotiators during negotiations. It alters their perspective of the person they are dealing with, influencing perceptions, emotions, and behaviors, along with the flow of the talks. And, depending on the cultural background of those you negotiate with, colors can have an unannounced paralyzing effect that silently slays your efforts to win more negotiations due to the misrepresentation they convey.

In this article, I offer advice and valuable insights on leveraging colors to gain an advantage in negotiations within your culture and with those outside of it. This knowledge will also lend insight into gaining an edge with people in everyday dealings.

Improve Negotiations by Understanding Color Psychology

Understanding color psychology improves negotiation from multiple perspectives. It can help in:

Creating the Right Tone

In every negotiation, an undercurrent drifts on the tones carried through the messages in the negotiator’s offers. Colors in the environment (i.e., clothes, presentation materials, etc.) are along for that ride. Thus, even the colors of your clothing have an unnotified hidden force that operates behind the scenes of one’s mind.

For instance, in some societies, red conveys assertiveness and confidence. That can become a subtle advantage, conveying a position of strength. Blue mentally connects with calmness and trust, making negotiators appear approachable and helping them with their rapport-building efforts.

Perception Influencer

It bears repeating – colors influence negotiators, the flow of the talks, and how others perceive you. Wearing black is sometimes perceived as being authoritative and confident. People in some cultures link purple to creativity and prosperity, which could transmit the message of an innovative negotiator with enhanced problem-solving skills who can create solutions to possible impasses in negotiations.

Improve Cognitive Abilities

Research indicates that some colors can affect cognitive abilities. Blue, for example, has been connected to improved analytical thinking. Red may heighten one’s attention to detail, and both can be a value-add to a negotiator’s negotiation tool set.

Solicit Emotions

Some colors can solicit particular emotions in the opposition. People link green to positivity, renewal, and growth in some societies. Presenting your offers with this in your color palette can pique the emotions of the other negotiator, making your offers more appealing to those influenced by such. Colors perceived as warm, orange, and yellow can create an optimistic and collaborative environment.

Suffice it to say that when you purposefully use colors in your clothing, visual assets, and negotiation environment, you subliminally increase an unseen advantage. You do that by shaping the perspective, emotional demeanor, and how information is processed to become your hidden ally.

Increase Awareness of The Power of Colors

Colors arouse explicit emotions and reactions that shape the undercurrents of negotiations. Some colors make negotiators appear more dominant, trustworthy, or aggressive. Others may undercut the perception of their authority.

The following are color factors to remember based on their impact during negotiations in Western Societies. And remember, the opposition’s color attire may influence you on an unconscious level, too. So, if you want to win more negotiations, that is another reason to keep your awareness high. 

  •  Combining purple and white can enhance a negotiator’s perceived authority when mixed with red and blue. That can lead to a more significant command of respect.
  • Red symbolizes determination, energy, and power. It can project a sense of assertiveness; the opposition can also perceive it as aggressive and threatening. So, be mindful of whom and where you use these colors.
  • Warm colors, such as light blue, yellow, green, and white, can project an image of passivity – placing the other negotiator at ease while decreasing their fears of thinking you might take advantage of them.
  • Blue can symbolize trust, stability, and loyalty. It can also have the spillover benefit of making a negotiator appear confident, wise, and honest. That can spur a sense of reliability.
  • Research suggests burnt orange, combined with dark blue and red, helps contest an aggressive or bullying negotiator by creating an assertive and confident image.

Cross-Cultural Color Consideration

Colors can vary significantly across different cultures. When negotiating with negotiators from other cultural backgrounds, heighten your awareness of the impact of your chosen colors.

  • While red, in many Western cultures, is associated with aggression, danger, and anger, in some Eastern cultures, such as China, it symbolizes good luck, prosperity, and happiness. In those cultures, people connect white to death and mourning, which could cause anxiety if it is a prominent color choice in negotiations.
  • Black is another color that negotiators should be aware of in some cultures. It is frequently related to authority and sophistication in Western cultures. Still, in some Asian and African cultures, it can symbolize the opposite, leading negotiators in those cultures to sense negativity, sadness, or even evil.

Colors Considered Most Effective Across Different Cultures

When negotiating across cultures, being aware of your chosen colors is imperative. Here are some insights on effective color choices for cross-cultural negotiations:

In most cultures, people consider blue to be positive. People associate it with trust, stability, and professionalism.

People also associate green with being positive across most cultures. It signifies growth, nature, and harmony. It can be a good choice for conveying a sense of environmental balance and consciousness.


When you master color psychology, you position yourself to win more negotiations. To do so, you must become aware of the impact of different colors on people based on their cultural background. That can be challenging.

Nevertheless, using the information I presented, you can avoid the consequences of choosing the wrong colors – while heightening your abilities to use colors as a psychological ally. And everything will be right with the world.

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

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