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Simple Jury Persuasion: “I will give you this car for  $9,000.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
posted by Rita Handrich

persuasionWe are always on the lookout for subtle but effective ways to persuade and here’s a new one. You are going to get more of what you want in any sort of negotiation if you use a very simple language style change. Instead of focusing on what the buyer stands to lose (in this case, $9,000), help them focus on what they will gain (your fabulous car).

If you are the seller, instead of saying, “I would like $9,000 for the car”, you say, “I will give you this car for $9,000”.

That simple change in language focus makes a huge difference to the buyer according to today’s research, and results in better outcomes consistently for the seller. But the seller isn’t the only winner with this language focus shift. It works for buyers too!

Instead of saying, as the buyer, “I would take the car for $9,000” (which makes the seller think of losing their beloved car), you say, “I will give you $9,000 for your car” (and the seller thinks of all that money).

It even works when the transaction you are attempting to negotiate does not involve money but rather, involves the trading of goods. The researchers had fourth grade children use this language in trading card transactions and found that those who said, “My Obi Wan against your Yoda” were more successful that those who said, “Your Yoda for my Obi Wan”. Again, placing the focus in your language on what the other party will receive will result in better outcomes for you consistently.

And here’s another tactic (this article is filled with useful tips!). Don’t lower your price immediately—instead try to add something to the offer—like a full tank of gas, winter tires, gentle cleaning fluid for the paint work. Again, the idea is to focus the person with whom you are negotiating on what they will get— not the money they will lose.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, consider the argument you make as a transaction of sorts with jurors. You are not asking for a damages award. You are giving them an opportunity to restore the losses your client has suffered. You are not asking them to send a plaintiff home empty-handed or send a defendant to prison, you are encouraging them to do what justice requires. And in every case, from every perspective, their vote is not for you, or your client— it is an affirmation of what they know in their hearts and minds is right.

Trötschel R, Loschelder DD, Höhne BP, & Majer JM (2015). Procedural frames in negotiations: how offering my resources versus requesting yours impacts perception, behavior, and outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108 (3), 417-35 PMID: 25751716

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