Use Framing In Your Next Negotiation In Order To Be Successful

Frames can help you get the deal that you want in your next negotiation
Frames can help you get the deal that you want in your next negotiation
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So convincing the other side to agree to the proposal that you have made to them may come down to how they view what you have presented. You want them to see your offer in a favorable light, but there is really no guarantee that this will happen. As a negotiator, you’d like to be able to control how the other side views your proposals. It turns out that you can. You just need to know how to go about framing your next negotiation.

It’s All About Your Approach

When you are in a negotiation and you’ve offered what you think is a great deal, there is a possibility that the other side doesn’t seem to agree. What’s the problem here? Your offer may be excellent – the problem is with how you’ve approached framing in the negotiation that’s holding you back. The concept of framing as it is used in a negotiation describes the fact that the way we describe our offers strongly affects how others view them. For example, research has been done that finds that people tend to resist compromises – and to declare an impasse – that are framed as losses for them rather than gains.

The classic example of a situation like this has to do with a job offer. Suppose for a moment that a company offers a recruit a $30,000 increase over their current salary of $110,000. This offer same offer of $140,000 is more likely to appeal to him than an offer framed as a $20,000 decrease from his request of a $160,000 salary. We need to understand that stressing what the other side would gain rather than lose is an important form of framing in a negotiation.

Framing Strategies

If you want to successfully use framing in your next negotiation, then you’re going to have to offer the other side manageable choices. Studies of how consumers make decisions suggest that people actually welcome fewer rather than more choices. This is a finding with consequences for framing in negotiation. In a study, researchers set up a tasting booth of jams in a grocery store. On one weekend, shoppers were able to taste six different types of jams. On another weekend, shoppers were offered 24 different types of jams to taste. All the jams were available for purchase by consumers on both weekends.

So what did the researchers find? Of course the larger selection of jams attracted more people to the tasting table, though the number of jams people tasted was about the same for both weekends. Here’s the surprising result of this study: 30% of shoppers exposed to six types of jam bought a jar, but only 3% of those exposed to 24 types did so. The takeaway from this study is that consumers can become so overwhelmed by available options that deciding not to make any decision at all can be a relief. Similarly, when we are framing in a negotiation, we need to keep in mind that the other side may say they want as many choices as possible but may feel overwhelmed if you offer them 10 or 20.

During a negotiation, it is also important that you make several offers to the other side. This brings up the question: for advantageous framing in negotiation, what’s the right number of options to present? The answer turns out to be issuing three equivalent offers simultaneously. When you present multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, also know as MESOs, you show the other side the issues you value most. In turn, their reactions can tell you about their priorities. Taken together, you can craft an agreement that accounts for everyone’s most important interests. What’s more, MESOs give the other side the choice they desire without risk of decision paralysis.

Perhaps the hardest part of being a negotiator is that we have to be willing to be rejected during a negotiation. To understand this, let’s look at another story about consumer behavior that relates to framing in negotiation. Retailer Williams-Sonoma was selling a coffee-making machine priced at $375. Eventually, the company also began selling a similar but larger coffee-making machine, this one priced at $529. Williams-Sonoma sold a few units of the more expensive coffee maker, but after it was on the market, sales of the less-expensive coffee maker almost doubled. Apparently, the $375 model didn’t seem like a bargain until it was sitting next to the $529 model.

If we translate this to the context of framing in negotiation, this contrast effect suggests a strategic move: you should ask for more than you realistically expect, accept being rejected, and then shade your next offer downward. The other side is likely to find a reasonable offer even more appealing after rejecting an offer that’s clearly out of the question. So, next time you are negotiating, try putting forth MESOs that aim higher than the other side is likely to accept. Their reaction to the offers will help you frame a subsequent set that, thanks to the contrast effect, are more likely to hit the mark.

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators, our goal in every negotiation is to find a way to reach a deal with the other side. We want to be able to present proposals to them that they’ll find attractive and will end up accepting. However, if we’re not careful there is a good chance that our proposals are going to end up getting rejected. What we need is a way to make our offers so appealing that the other side will accept them.

It turns out that there is a way to make this happen. It’s called “framing”. When we frame an offer, we describe the offer to the other side in a way that makes it appear to be appealing to them. In order to make framing work for you in your next negotiation, you are going to have to offer the other side manageable choices. During the negotiation, it is also important that you make several offers to the other side. Making three offers is generally considered the right thing to do. You also have to be willing to be rejected. Make an offer that will be rejected and then follow this up with an offer that will be accepted.

The ultimate goal of any negotiation is to find a way to reach a deal with the other side. This means that they will eventually have to accept an offer that we’ve presented to them. By using framing, we can motivate them to accept our offers faster and reach the deal that we have been seeking.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there is ever a situation in which you should make more than three offers?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

All too often negotiators like to think about their next negotiation as being unique. The topics that will be discussed have never been discussed before, the people who will be negotiating may have never met before, and the outcome is up in the air. However, what we may be missing here is that negotiating is actually a process. Yes, every negotiation that we participate in is unique. However, the framework of the negotiation is always the same. If you want to have a successful negotiation, then you need to make sure that you set up the process correctly.