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The Neuroscience of Negotiations

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July 14, 2019

 

Negotiation is the way we get what we want, no matter what it is. In today’s world, every decision involving more than one person goes through a process of negotiation, which determines the outcome for everyone involved. While negotiating usually results in a profitable outcome for the more competent side, it’s possible to improve this final result through learning about the neuroscience of negotiations.  

 

History of negotiations 

The modern human brain has been developing its own negotiation skills since the beginning of the genus ‘Homo’. As negotiation in all forms has been a crucial part of our species’ survival, we have developed greater instincts for it, making us the best negotiators in the natural world. Today, the negotiation process is highly influenced by our fight-or-flight responses, as well as by secretions from our adrenal glands. Many psychological and physiological factors highjack us during negotiations and affect our ability to think on our feet. We are motivated by an inherent rewardseeking system, which in our competitive modern era, is often driving that instinct to function as a threat-based system instead. Natural negotiation is the human body’s way of assisting us in securing everything we need to survive – shelter, food, water, socialization, protection and even procreating partners. All of this points to a direct link between neuroscience and negotiation. Money is emotional. Winning vs. losing is emotional.  

 

What is it? 

The neuroscience of negotiations is, quite simply, the manipulation of the hormonal and psychological responses of the brain. Negotiations trigger a relational impulse in our brains, and by learning to control that impulse, we can improve the results of our endeavours. The neuroscience of negotiations deals with tweaking one’s mind and one’s natural responses to increase one’s influence over the opposite negotiating side. The battle between oxytocin and cortisol is the battle between trust and fear in our bodies. To be a successful negotiator, one needs to emanate trust and comfort while reaching a high level of control; one either has to practice a lot, or learn about neuroscience and its influence in negotiations.  

 

Why it matters for your sales approach 

Negotiation is how we succeed in life. It’s the one simple process that applies to everything we do, and the better we are at it, the better results we can achieve. Negotiation coaches teach us how to keep our own thoughts hidden while reading the other side; though this is just one part of the neuroscience of negotiations, it’s crucial to master this step before moving on to anything else. The point is to be able to make one’s interlocutors comfortable enough that they don’t come forward with demands, but rather with needs and concerns. It’s far easier to debate a need or an inability to do something than it is a demand or anything else shrouded in negative connotations.  

 

Conclusion 

Understanding the way our bodies work is crucial to understanding how we communicate with people. Negotiating is one of our natural bodily responses, but it can be controlled and streamlined to fit our needs. Throughout negotiations, barriers such as language, prejudice, preconceptions and emotions all fall under the category of neuroscience.  

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