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Volume V, Number 10 • November 2012 • Archive of Past Issues
An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association
Written by Linda B. Bulmash

This Month's Topic:

Aim for the Most Simple Solution

People aim for the simplest most natural way to answer life's questions and will do so in a negotiation as well. The simplest, most natural solution is also referred to as the most prominent solution.

Thomas Schelling did research at Harvard on this theory of prominence, which he called "focal power." He concluded that people gravitate to nice round numbers like 1, 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000.

Here are some of the most natural and prominent solutions that people gravitate toward. Knowing this, you can foretell where the other side is going and prepare to use it to your benefit. If you know which choice they are most likely going to make, you can set up the choices to increase the odds they will choose the one you want. And make sure you put your desired choice in the most prominent position.

  1. Splitting things equally (50/50).
  2. Splitting things equitably (proportional shares based on some measurement).
  3. Historical behavior in similar circumstances.
  4. Published standards in an industry.
  5. Even numbers.
  6. Numbers that end in 0.
  7. Numbers that end in 5.
  8. The tallest/largest/longest.
  9. If they are right handed, the one to their right or if they are left handed, the one to their left.
10. The most well known or famous.

LACBA member Linda B. Bulmash, Esq., writes the Negotiation Tips. You can contact her at:
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