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Volume I, Number 4   ●  Contact Us  •  Past Issue Archive  ● November 2007

A Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association
Edited by Linda B. Bulmash

This Month's Topic: Beware of Cognitive Traps

One of the dangers of any negotiation is the human tendency to irrationally commit to a course of action and to escalate that commitment whenever our choice is challenged.  This can often be seen during an auction, a form of negotiation, in which people will pay more than the stated value of the item in order to win.  Reduce the possibility of irrational commitments by doing the following:

 1.  Be very aware of your competitive inclinations and what triggers them to escalate. Focus on getting the best deal and not beating the other side.

 2.  Avoid focusing on the “sunk costs”/the amount of time, money and effort you have already invested in getting what you want.  Those costs have little bearing on the current market/settlement value. 

3.  Strategically focus each of your responses on getting the other side to make the next move that will bring them closer to your desired outcome. The more you stay away from escalating and irrationally committing the less they will feel a need to escalate and overly commit to a course of action.

4. Keep your demands in the high but realistic range.

5. Remember, people only agree to a deal when there is something in it for them so make sure you focus on answering their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).

When engaging in any mediation or settlement process, put these negotiating skills to use to help you achieve the optimal outcome.  This free monthly “One Minute Negotiating Tip” is based on Linda Bulmash's highly acclaimed column, "Negotiate Like The Winners".

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Linda B. Bulmash, Esq.
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