The Five Most Effective Ways to Break Negotiation Impasse: Part IV

Give a Reason for Every Number

 (right, the ultimate in lame reason giving:  the dog ate my homework!)

 To reinforce anchoring and framing effects of first offers and offer-characterization, always state the reason you are valuing the item to be traded in the manner you are.  “I’m offering to pay you $20,000 in exchange for a dismissal because (choose one or more):  (a) I impeached your witness with interrogatory answers in the deposition; (b) the only case law in your favor has been questioned by the Supreme Court and hasn’t been cited since 1972; (c) your expert witness went to Ralph’s School of Law and mine went to Harvard; (d) recent jury verdicts for the theft of trade secrets of this nature have been less than the cost of doing the first round of discovery; and, (e) anything else you have.

In experiments on reason giving, researchers have found that people are far more likely to accommodate others if a reason is given even if the reason makes no sense whatsoever.  In one such experiment, students were asked to cut into a line at Kinkos.  One group was instructed to give no reason; another to give a good reason (“I’m late for class”) and another to give an irrational reason (“because I want to”). Those who provided no rationale were, not surprisingly, the least successful. Only sixty percent of them were allowed to “cut” into the line. Those who presented a logical rationale got what they wanted an extraordinary 94% of the time.   But here’s the truly remarkable part. Those students who presented a meaningless rationale such as, “I want to cut in line because I need to,” racked up a ninety-three percent success rate, only one percent less than their logical peers.

                        author

Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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