Explaining why our bargaining partners should do what we want them to do requires persuasion — a compelling account of our business requirements and capabilities — along with any other reasons we can gin up to prove that what we want is fair and reasonable.
As sociologist Charles Tilly explained in his book, Why? we fail to persuade when we’re talking past each other and we talk past each other when we’re using a type of reasoning different from that of our bargaining partner. I first heard of Tilly’s work from that great popularizer of social science research, Malcolm Gladwell (Here’s Why) after which I never argued my case or negotiated a deal in the same way again.
But First, Why Reason Giving is a Critical Negotiation Skill
In experiments on reason giving, researchers have found that we are far more likely to persuade people to accommodate us if we give them a reason to do so even if the reason makes no sense whatsoever. In one experiment, students were asked to cut in line at Kinkos. One group was instructed to give no reason. Another was told to give a good reason (I’m late for class). The last was directed to give an irrational reason (because I want to).
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