“In negotiations, anchoring can tie you down, but it doesn’t have to weigh you down. Used right, it can be the brisk breeze that sails you to greater negotiation ports.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
Anchoring occurs in every negotiation in one form or another. To enhance your negotiation position, be aware of when it occurs, the intent of it, the mindset you adopt when observing it, and what response you or your negotiation counterpart will have to it. Those ingredients will drastically affect the flow and outcome of the negotiation. Consider the following.
Know the intent of anchoring. It should align with your negotiation plans. In some situations, it may be prudent to let the other negotiator anchor his position first. The justification would be based on him displaying more of his position than you displaying yours. Regardless of the option you choose, remember the person that anchors first sets a mile-marker that establishes a boundary in the negotiation.
When considering how to implant your anchor, consider the tonality you’ll employ to assist your efforts. As an example, if you state your position with a timid sounding voice, you run the risk of sounding unsure and weak. On the other hand, if you convey your intent with a rich and deep voice, you’ll project the perception of authority. You’ll be more believable, influential, and convincing; a deep voice is commanding; It projects authority. In either case, be mindful of the perception your tone of voice has on your pronouncements.
Unlike other tools in a negotiation, you should use anchoring judiciously. It will become the cornerstone upon which an easy or tough negotiation ensues.
Before choosing when and how you’ll anchor your position, consider what the response might be to it. When planning, assemble actions that will buttress up and progress your position while keeping the negotiation away from quagmires.
You should always anticipate your counterpart’s next move. When anchoring, anticipate several future moves that he might make. Since anchoring establishes the foundation from which you’ll move forward, be more diligent in your timing, thought process, and implementation.
Be aware of your mental state of mind when attempting to use anchoring as a viable tool in negotiations. If you’re mentally weak about making your offer, per how you’ll anchor it, assess why you have that mindset; more than likely, it won’t serve the goals you’re attempting to achieve. If you can’t muster the mental fortitude to deliver your offer in a manner that supports your efforts, it may be better not to anchor it at all. You don’t want to worsen your chance of acquiring a better deal.
If you’re aware of what your negotiation counterpart is attempting to achieve by anchoring you to his position, and you don’t like the position it places you in, counter to the extreme opposite. The subliminal message you’ll send is, there’s a wide gap to overcome. It will also serve to message that both of you will have to make a significant movement to advance the negotiation. You can signal that you’re willing to attempt that broach if he is, too.
The potential pitfall of responding to the extreme is to risk an impasse due to such a wide gap in anchors. Thus, you should be thoughtful about how you refute an anchor that’s established and whether you’ll set it first.
Anchoring is the persister that sets the boundaries that follow. It also foreshadows the strategies that will persist after its establishment. Used adroitly, it can be the first volley of an enhanced negotiation. Thus, if you use anchoring skillfully, you’ll be on a path to heightened negotiation outcomes … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
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