2 Psychology Tricks To Use In Your Next Negotiation

It isn’t the nature of negotiations themselves that makes for weak knees and quivering hearts, but instead, if you think about it, it is the confrontational, almost hostile turn many negotiations take when the going gets tough that gets us nervous.


So what to do when you are put in a tough negotiation situation? Use a little bit of psychology to rack up the stakes in your favor, that’s what. Here are 2 negotiation techniques backed by the psychology of persuasion that can help turn you into a master negotiator.

1. Make the First Offer

Whether you are negotiating your salary or closing a business deal, someone has to make the first offer. Studies have shown that whoever makes the first offer in a negotiation can influence the eventual outcome of the negotiation. How? Because our brain perceives an offer’s value by the first number that enters the negotiation environment. By setting the number higher or lower, the other party will inevitably have to move their reference point to your offer. This is very similar to the priming effect which when used smartly can make your offerings seem like a steal

How To Make it Work

Imagine you are negotiating a potential contract and you have understood the client needs and requirements fully. Now the time has come for the dreaded money talk. There are two ways you can play this:

  • You ask the client what their budget is and work from there. In this case, the first number to enter the conversation is his and that means you will have to negotiate from that point.
  • You make the first move and quote a number a tad higher than you would like to be paid. This number is basically the “anchor” around which the rest of the money talk would revolve. So if you want to be paid 70K, make the first offer at 90K so the negotiator perceives a counter-offer of 50K absurd.

2. Meet them Halfway (not REALLY!)

When you start with a more extreme offer (which you are positive will be rejected) and then tame your stance to a more reasonable one, it triggers in the other person the obligation to “meet halfway” and make a concession in return.

This tactic, which Rober Cialdini calls the Door-in-the-Face technique has been used successfully by negotiators in corporate as well as political realm. So if you are prone to censoring yourself, thinking “it’s too extreme to be taken seriously!” perhaps you should reconsider. Research suggests that a radical offer, when rejected, makes it more likely that a reasonable demand will be evaluated more positively.

How to Make it Work

So you are negotiating with the client on project timelines and you feel that the project will realistically take about 3 months. In order to get the client to agree on this 3 month timeframe, you can do one of these two things:

  • Say it as it is but with the risk that client would squeeze you to finish it in 2 months.


  • Throw an estimate of 4-5 months, which the client would most likely refuse outright. Follow this up (after some deliberation) with a favorable time-frame of 3 months which the client is sure to accept. Viola! You get what you want and the client feels obliged because you did him a favor!

These techniques may seem manipulative to some but the truth is, smart negotiators use many such similar techniques intuitively and if you are not prepared to counter these or even use some yourself, you would be inherently at a disadvantage.

Team ZenBusiness

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