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Volume III, Number 2 - November 2009 ●   Contact Us  •  Past Issue Archive   ●   

An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association
Edited by Linda B. Bulmash

This Month's Topic:  The Power of Persuasion in Mediation and Negotiation

One of the leading social scientists in the field of influence and persuasion has identified six universal principles that are at work in virtually every negotiation or mediation. Dr. Robert Caldini, the Regents Professor of Social Psychology at Arizona State University, discovered these principles by observing “compliance professionals” in the marketplace.**

Mediations are assisted negotiations. The best mediators apply these universal principles to get parties what they want while also reducing their impact. As a practitioner, you can use these as well.

  1. RECIPROCITY. People feel obligated to give back to people who have given to them. This is a method for survival. Think “tit for tat,” the “golden rule,” and “an eye for an eye.”
  2. LIKING. People are more likely to say yes to people they like and know. People like people who are similar to them and with whom they are comfortable.
  3. CONSENSUS. People like to do what is comfortable and make choices based on what others similarly situated are doing.
  4. AUTHORITY. People make decisions often in reliance on the opinion or guidance of those with apparent superior knowledge. Actual superior knowledge is not necessary. Consider, for example, actors who portray doctors in commercials touting certain medications.
  5. CONSISTENCY. Once people make a decision or invest their resources (time, money, emotions), they feel pressure to continue with that commitment. If you get them to say “yes” about small things, it is easier to get them to say “yes” about bigger things.
  6. SCARCITY. People value things that are less available. The willingness to buy an item increases when a time limit is set. With diamonds, for example, people pay more because they believe the supply is limited.

** Dr. Robert Caldini, Influence, Science and Practice (4th Ed., Allyn & Bacon).
Linda B. Bulmash, Esq.
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