Look Beyond Easily Available Information and a Checklist of Key Tools

21.12.2016 |

Episode #10 of the course Psychological tools and traps in negotiation by George Siedel


Welcome to the tenth and final lesson of the course. The key message in this lesson: you should look beyond easily available information when making negotiation decisions. This lesson concludes with a checklist of key tools from the course for use in your future negotiations.

What causes more deaths annually in the United States—car accidents or lung cancer? When I ask this question in my MBA course, a large percentage of students select car accidents. Even when I ask this question when teaching negotiation in a major medical center, a high percentage of the doctors in the seminar select the same answer.

These results are surprising, because in a typical year around four times as many Americans die from lung cancer as in car accidents. What accounts for my students’ erroneous conclusions? Decisions are overly influenced by information that is easily available. As noted by Russo and Schoemaker in discussing the lung cancer example, “People seem to implicitly assume that the information that is most easily available to them is also the most relevant information.” Information about car accidents is easily available through news reports that are sometimes accompanied by gruesome pictures. Death from lung cancer is not front page news and often is not even mentioned in obituaries.

Understanding the availability trap can be useful during negotiations. For example, I once worked with an executive from an aircraft manufacturer. Hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake when the company negotiated contracts with the government, and government officials often delayed their decisions for months following the negotiations. The executive told me that the manufacturer produced videos, which showed its fighter planes in action during bombing operations, for use during negotiations. The company hoped that these videos, like pictures of car accidents, would easily come to mind when government officials awarded contracts.


Checklist of Key Negotiation Tools and Traps

In this course we have explored the most important psychological tools that you can use in negotiations. They are also traps that you should avoid. Here is a checklist of what we have covered for your use in future negotiations:

1. Do Not Assume a Fixed Pie During Your Negotiations
2. Consider Anchoring and How It Affects Your First Offer Strategy
3. Avoid the Overconfidence Trap
4. Frame Choices to Your Advantage
5. Look at Your Negotiation From the Perspective of the Other Side
6. Understand How to Use Reciprocity
7. Use the Contrast Principle to Encourage Selection of a Choice You Prefer
8. Take a Big-Picture Perspective
9. Look Beyond Easily Available Information

I hope that this course will be useful in your future negotiations. I have a special interest in the results of your negotiations because my success as a teacher is measured by your success as a negotiator. Good luck! George


For additional information about the topics covered in this course and other negotiation strategies and skills, please see Negotiation for Success: Essential Strategies and Skills.

Also visit this website for additional tools that are useful in negotiations: negotiationplanner.com

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