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Offers better than requests

First movers can screw up negotiations with the wrong framing






Opening negotiations with an offer will significantly more often succeed than wrapping the very same issue into a request. The offer focusses on potential gains, the request on the contrary on potential losses. Within 5 experiments the majority of 900 test subjects heavily stood up against the latter, whereas having been exposed to an offer they were motivated to be conciliatory. So the assumption that socalled first movers in negotiations were unlimitedly more assertive has been refuted. This was the key result of a recent study conducted by the University of Lüneburg in cooperation with Columbia/NY.

Lacking the right framing even those who set the anchor by articulating their intentions first can still screw up their negotiations.

“Open to offers, but resisting requests: How the framing of anchors affects motivation and negotiated outcomes”, Journal for Personality and Social Psychology, Sept. 2020, pg. 582-599.



From the practice:

It was never very charming when a negotiator started by confronting his/her interlocutors with a request. How often have I advised my clients to evade the pressure by simply not taking it if they were confronted with this technique?! These have been my recos: a) to speak up with their own request, b) to comment on a meta-level that this was such an unmoralic request and c) to ask in detail what sort of motivation lies behind the request so as to work with this offensively afterwards.

I do admit: I am happy to learn that the constructive method – to open with an offer – has now gained also the scientific seal of approval. Furthermore this approach not only satisfies by the ethic component but is much more efficient after all. You are saving with the offer-opening time, nerves and very likely also money.


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