Mastering the Art: Various Negotiation Techniques, Methods, and Skills Explored

Imagine your company has been invited for an investment opportunity on a reality show such as Shark Tank, and you are ready with your negotiation strategy and techniques. You are looking to raise ₹1 Crore for a 10% share of your company’s equity, and you receive a counteroffer of ₹80 Lakhs for a 15% share of your company.

What options do you have? To cave in and accept it because that’s the only offer available, to walk away because you did not receive the ideal offer, or to go for the third secret approach – Negotiation techniques.

Negotiation is a soft skill required to resolve conflicts and stalemates in different life situations – an investment opportunity in Shark Tank, a property sale or salary negotiations.

A global survey shows that 55% of people frequently participate in short commercial negotiations and 41% in large, complex negotiations weekly.

Wondering how to master these negotiation techniques? You are already at the right place because this article will discuss several techniques and frameworks that can help you negotiate effectively.

Meaning Of Negotiation Techniques

A negotiation technique is a method or approach employed during negotiations, such as job offers, salary negotiations, or business deals, trying to get to reach a defined and favorable result. Depending on what you’re negotiating, you should be able to use different negotiation techniques to achieve the desired outcome.

These techniques help you understand the power dynamics between both parties, delve deeper into the reasons for the conflict and of what employ your negotiation skills effectively.

Have you ever realised that negotiation is an age-old skill? In the ancient period, rulers used to negotiate with each other to form trade networks, and battles used to be ended through negotiations. In fact, the First World War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles between Germany and the Allied Powers. These negotiations had a very important aspect to them – psychology.

Understanding psychology and human behaviour is extremely crucial to negotiating effectively because a lot of these techniques are based on human psychology. Let’s briefly understand the relationship between negotiation and psychology.

Negotiation and Psychology

Negotiation is an interpersonal skill; hence, understanding each other is extremely important for a negotiation to be successful. Understanding psychological principles as a cognitive biases and social influence can help negotiators tailor their messages, frame their arguments, and use language that resonates about the other side. These insights become integral components of effective negotiation, enhancing the ability to connect and communicate persuasively.

Additionally, psychology plays a role in understanding how trust is developed and when to walk away from a deal. Building positive relationships through effective communication, empathy, and reliability improves negotiation outcomes. One important aspect of psychology is behavioural economics. Behavioural economics explores how individuals deviate from purely rational decision-making due to their biases and emotional influences.

For instance, very simple advice that experts give is to negotiate on days with good weather because good weather triggers good behaviour. Also, discuss the weather beforehand if you need to negotiate during bad weather. This discussion eliminates the negative effect because it orients people toward the reason behind their bad mood. Thus, negotiation and psychology go hand-in-hand.

An important point to note here is that mastering some psychological techniques that can be used in negotiation is one of the best ways to become a great negotiator. In the future, we will examine 10 negotiation techniques inspired by psychology and behavioral economics, emphasizing strategies for creating a win-win situation in negotiations.

10 Negotiation Techniques For Successful Negotiation

Negotiation is a powerful tool that can turn a deal in your favour. However, if you go into a negotiation without preparation or use ineffective tactics at the negotiation table, it may result in undesirable outcomes.

Therefore, below is a list of 10 well-researched and universally accepted negotiation tactics infused with psychological principles you can incorporate into your daily negotiations.

Let’s dive in!

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1. Door-In-The-Face Technique

The Door-In-The-Face (DITF) Technique is a psychological strategy often employed in negotiations and situations of social influence. The basic idea behind this technique is to make a large request that you expect to be turned down (the “door slam”), followed by a smaller, more reasonable request that was your target all along.

The goal is to increase the likelihood of the second, more moderate request being accepted by creating a sense of reciprocity or concession.

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The Door-In-The-Face Technique leverages the psychological principle of reciprocity, where individuals tend to feel a sense of obligation to respond when someone has made a concession or compromise. For example, suppose you want to sell your property for ₹50 Lakhs. In that case, you list it for ₹65 Lakhs (an unreasonable demand) so that when you bring the price down to ₹50 Lakhs, it seems reasonable to the buyer, and the buyer feels the pressure to reciprocate and accept the deal.

2. Foot-In-The-Door Technique

The Foot-In-The-Door (FITD) Technique is a psychological phenomenon commonly used in the negotiation process. It involves making a small request or getting someone to respond positively to a minor commitment initially, with the intention of later making a larger request or seeking a more significant commitment. The idea is that compliance with the initial, smaller request increases the likelihood of compliance with subsequent, larger requests.

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For example, you want a coffee machine in your office and need to convince more people to support you. So, you informally start asking people if they want a coffee machine in the office, and 35 people out of 50 say yes.

Now that you see a majority wanting a coffee machine, you want to make a formal request to the company with a letter signed by all the supporters. If you had started by requesting people to sign the letter, you would not have received any success, but now that people have agreed informally, most of them would not mind signing the letter.

3. Framing Technique

Consider any advertisement of toothpaste and imagine instead of saying, “Kills 99% germs”, they said, “Leaves 1% germs”. Imagine a company saying, “65% of the employees will not get an appraisal this year” instead of saying, “35% employees will get an appraisal this year”. This is called the framing effect in psychology – the same meaning but different perception. It is an unconscious cognitive bias where people react differently to the same idea or thing when presented or “framed” differently.

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By using the framing technique, you can frame your issues at hand in a negotiation in a positive light or emphasise certain aspects which are important to you. It can help you influence the other party’s perception of the situation, making it more likely to agree with your proposals.

When you frame your negotiation arguments or statements, use positive and constructive language. Focus on the benefits and opportunities from your proposal, and do not let the negotiation divert to costs and risks.

Moreover, provide Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers (MESOs) to make the other side feel they control the conversation. It also helps you to demonstrate that you’re willing to explore multiple solutions and increase the likelihood of striking a deal.

4. Schmoozing Technique

Schmoozing means talking or conversing with someone casually to know about them or just impressing them. This technique requires you to schmooze over or discuss personal details with the other party before negotiating.

People receive better deals when they schmooze beforehand because knowing personal details about each other builds trust and strengthens relationships. So, even if there is some friction during the negotiation process, the parties can work out a deal.

Starting the conversation with “What is going on in your life?” or “When was the last time you went on a vacation?” can trigger a series of thoughts and discussions on personal details. When both parties have formed good relationships, that is when you commence the negotiation process.

5. Bring Pastries And Coffee

One unique and devious negotiation strategy is bringing pastries and coffee to the negotiation table. Although ‘pastries and coffee’ has been figuratively used in the technique, you can bring anything sweet.

Using this technique affects negotiations in several ways:

  • Mirroring Body Language: Mirroring is a form of nonverbal communication where two people mimic each other’s movements, speaking or gestures. Now, what does mirroring have to do with pastries and coffee? Since both of you will be eating, you will automatically mimic each other, and this mimicry builds rapport.

  • Triggers Reciprocity: Even if the other side hates pastries and coffee, this unsolicited favour will trigger an urge to respond. This reciprocation will be reflected during the terms of the negotiation.

  • Activates Physical Warmth: Our brain confuses physical warmth with personal warmth. Holding a warm beverage (e.g., coffee) boosts our interpersonal warmth and cooperative behaviour. This will help the negotiation run smoothly without any aggression or too much contradiction.

6. Anchoring Technique

Let’s say we are sitting at a negotiation table to discuss an agreement for a house you want to purchase. The figure you have in your mind is between ₹50 Lakhs to ₹65 Lakhs, and I make the first offer, which is ₹70 Lakhs.

Do you think we will close the deal at ₹50 Lakhs? No, of course not because the opening price is ₹70 Lakhs; the negotiation will revolve around 60-70 lakhs, not below that.

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Making the first offer sets the tone for the negotiation. This process is called Anchoring. The old “never revealing your cards” process does not work well in negotiations. By presenting a number or proposal first, you establish a reference point to engage in a discussion. This can influence the direction of the negotiation and potentially anchor the final agreement closer to your initial proposal, giving you an advantage in shaping the terms of the deal.

If you suggest an absurd proposal at the beginning, and even if it is quickly disregarded, both parties will know what you’re aiming for.

To anchor the negotiation effectively, a few things are essential. First is thorough and deep research to understand the market pricing, market conditions and competition. Based on your research findings, prepare multiple offers to present before the other party. Once you have sufficient research to present your offer, don’t jump right in.

Discuss and ask relevant questions to understand the other party’s needs, perspectives, buying power and Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). Once you have gathered all the information, present your first offer.

7. If You; Then I Technique

The “If You, Then I” technique is a negotiation strategy that involves a conditional approach where you express your willingness to make a concession or meet a request, but only if the other party reciprocates in a certain way.

The simple rule of negotiation is “no one wants to lose”, and hence, no party will accept an offer which causes loss to them. While standing firm on what you want is important, there are instances where you need to compromise, provided the other party agrees to do the same.

An amazing example of this technique being used was the Tesla-Panasonic negotiation, where Tesla offered, “If Panasonic supplies Tesla with high-quality lithium-ion batteries, then Tesla will provide technical assistance to Panasonic to improve their production efficiency.” In 2020, the two companies signed a new multi-year agreement that confirms this promise. This “If You, Then I” approach has helped both companies to achieve their goals.

Preparing your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and knowing the BATNA of the other party is extremely crucial when you go into a negotiation. To prepare an effective BATNA, identify what and how much you are willing to give up for that negotiation. Next, prepare two or more BATNAs because they can fall through.

For example, you have a job offer on your backhand, and you’re negotiating a salary at another place. You plan to use the first job offer as your BATNA to increase your salary, and you receive a notice that the person who hired you has left the company.

8. Open-Ended Questions Technique

If negotiation is a process of conflict resolution, that automatically means you need to understand the conflict properly. Imagine you want to quit your job to go back home and spend time with your parents for the next six months, and when HR hears this, they offer you a raise. Is there any point in negotiating the salary in this situation?

No, because the HR did not understand the “real issue”. If HR understood your problem, a better offer would be a part-time work-from-home or a sabbatical for six months.

One of the most effective ways to identify the needs of the other party is by asking ‘Open-ended questions’. An open-ended question is a question that allows the respondent to respond in detail and give explanations.

For instance, “Is it right that you did not do the job?” is a question with two possible answers – Yes or No – this is a closed question. On the contrary, “Why did you not do the job?” allows you to explain and justify your reasons and is an open-ended question.

The most effective way to ask open-ended questions and find the real issue is ‘The Five Whys’ framework developed by Olivier Serrat. Let’s understand this framework using the HR example mentioned before. Let’s say HR calls you to engage in a discussion regarding your low productivity, and you mentioned quitting the job. Let’s implement the Five Whys here. The HR starts with, “Why are we here for this meeting?”; you answer, “Because my track record has worsened”. HR asks, “Why is your track record deteriorating?” and you answer, “Because the work is not completed in time”. HR asks, “Why is your not completed on time?” and you answer, “Because I don’t feel efficient and productive”. HR asks, “Why do you not feel productive?” and you answer, “Because I feel distracted and uninterested”. HR asks, “Why do you feel uninterested?” and you answer, “Because I miss my family and want to spend time with them”. In five open-ended questions, you figured out the reason for reduced productivity.

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9. Deadlock Technique

In a negotiation, deadlock refers to a situation where both parties cannot come to an agreement or find a mutual solution to their problems and the negotiation gets stuck. Wondering how is this a technique? In the deadlock technique, we create a sense of deadlock, conveying to the other party that an agreement is unlikely or impossible to achieve under the current conditions.

The purpose of employing this technique is to pressure the other party into making concessions or adjusting their position in the hope of breaking the deadlock.

To use this technique successfully, two things are really important – (a) Right timing and (b) Clear communication. An appropriate time to create a deadlock would be when the conversation reaches a critical point or when you believe the other party is gaining too much advantage from this negotiation. Communicate challenges, differences, or obstacles that seem difficult to resolve, and mention specifically the need to explore alternative options.

These are some common ways of using this technique in different situations. In contractual negotiations, you can say, “If we cannot agree on these terms, I am willing to walk away from this deal”. In a sales negotiation, you can mention, “I am willing to take my business elsewhere if we cannot come to a common ground in the next hour”. In a dispute resolution negotiation, you can mention, “I am willing to take legal recourse to resolve this dispute, but agreeing to your terms is detrimental to my interest”. However, in any situation, it is essential that you know what you want from the negotiation.

10. Adjournment Technique

Sometimes, negotiations may be too prolonged, or the parties may not be able to come to an agreement and need to brainstorm new ideas. Therefore, the adjournment technique in negotiation provides for intentionally taking a break or postponing the negotiation session to create a pause in the process. This strategic pause can be used to reassess, gather additional information, consult with stakeholders, or influence the negotiation dynamics.

To implement this technique, clearly communicate your intention to take a break. This can be done diplomatically by expressing the need for time to review certain aspects or consult with colleagues or directly by expressing that we should take some time to think about our proposals. Specify the duration of the adjournment, whether it’s a short break (e.g., 15 minutes) or a longer one (e.g., until the next day). Before suggesting an adjournment, actively listen to the other party’s concerns or proposals. This demonstrates respect for their perspective and can set the stage for a more constructive negotiation process after the break.

Conclusion: Insights On How To Deal With The Other Party

In essence, negotiation is a social and psychological process with these techniques as the stepping stones to success. Once you clearly understand, these negotiation techniques are very easy to incorporate and highly effective.

Imagine yourself bargaining with a shopkeeper over the price of a carpet. The shopkeeper quotes it for ₹1500, urging you to respond with ₹400. When the shopkeeper is shocked, you mention the maximum I can go is ₹800 – this is a simple use of the door-in-the-face technique. So, these techniques are dependent on your perception and understanding.

The best way to master these techniques is to keep practising them and consciously using them in all your negotiations, whether with a shopkeeper, with your friends and family or at your workplace.

Ashish Agarwal

Ashish is a content writer at Kapable. A dynamic lawyer, experienced educator and content writer, he blends his legal expertise with a flair for storytelling. He has a passion for writing compelling articles and strives to simplify complex concepts, making them accessible to diverse audiences. He is dedicated to writing on contemporary topics and topics related to soft skills development. His articles showcase a deep understanding of the topic and reflect his commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity.

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