The Negotiator Magazine

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1. Paint the picture.

Since we are more likely to remember and be influenced by vivid and colorful descriptions of matters, verbally paint the picture. Sometimes, even literally paint the picture, using audio-visual elements to illustrate critical elements of the negotiation. Also, avoid using excessively dry, boring language. Spice it up, but don't overdo it. Then back up your visual images with actual evidence. And above all, don't mislead -- like the car salesman above. If you're dealing with sophisticated counterparts, your lost credibility will cost you in the end.

2. Focus on your goal.

Prepare and set your goal -- to the extent you can -- before you begin the direct contact element of the negotiation.

By preparing first and then remaining focused on your goal, you will minimize the extent to which you will be overly influenced by the other side's vivid descriptions.

As Bazerman notes, "unprepared negotiators are far more susceptible than their prepared counterparts to the lure of vivid information." So when they paint the picture, evaluate its true relevance. Be especially wary of colorful analogies and emotional triggers.

3. Analyze the statistics behind the glitz.

When you see glitz or hear overly colorful language, research the standards and statistics behind it. Better yet, start by researching the standards and evidence underlying your negotiation issues.

Sometimes, you will find the colorful characterizations of issues will be supported. But other times, like with extended warranties, you will find that your counterpart will be using vivid language to try to distract you from the lack of supporting evidence.

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