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Volume I, Number 7   ●  Contact Us  •  Past Issue Archive  ●  February 2008

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

Dr. Robert Cialdini, Regents' Professor of Social Psychology at Arizona State University, is one of the leading social scientists in the field of influence and persuasion. He has identified six universal principles through observing “compliance professionals” in the marketplace.1 These six principles are at work in virtually every negotiation and mediation. 

When negotiating, use the following universal principles to get what you want. Be aware that the other side may attempt to use these principles to gain advantage over you.  

1. Reciprocity. People feel obligated to give back to people who have given to them. This is a method for survival. The principle of reciprocity is expressed in such common sayings as “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. Many people make choices based on what others who are similarly situated are doing.

4.  Authority. People often make decisions in reliance on the opinion/guidance of those with apparent superior knowledge. Actual superior knowledge is not necessary, e.g., actors who look like doctors make 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. Get them to say yes about small things, and it will be easier to get them to say yes about bigger things.

6.  Scarcity. People value things that are less available. Willingness to buy an item increases when a time limit is set or, the supply is limited. An example of the impact of limited supply is the diamond market. People are willing to pay more for diamonds because of their perceived scarcity.  

1Dr. Robert Cialdini, Influence: Science and Practice (4th ed. 2000)

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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