Pretty much everyone has experienced bias at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, it’s considerably prevalent in business negotiations as well. Bias can make your opponents judge before they even met you, question your competence or dismiss your ideas and any input. However, there are a couple of ways you can use it to your advantage.
Types of Personal Bias
Negotiation is usually used to resolve conflicts and achieve a better deal. Sometimes, due to subconscious or just plain obvious bias, all the progress achieved during negotiation goes backward. The following are the most common business prejudices.
When one or multiple individuals in business negotiations are of different cultures or religions, there’s a big risk of an intercultural barrier. Try to debunk the bias and most common myths surrounding your culture right away. If you’re the one with the bias toward others, at this day and age, there’s no shortage of Internet resources you can use to educate yourself.
Similar to the previous bias, racial discrimination is widely known in a business setting. From job applications to closing deals, your race may unfortunately still play a major role. The most useful solutions are finding common interests, building your strategy on research and not on flawed perceptions, and studying and discern patterns to counter them.
Numerous gender stereotypes and biases were and still are ingrained in people’s subconscious – from so-called submissiveness and overly emotional nature in women to societal pressure against men and disapproval of masculinity. The “women take care, and men take charge” mentality is outdated.
Social class may sometimes be a key factor in how people would perceive you in business negotiations. That inaccurate first impression may be disconfirmed using logical reasoning, nice manners, and solid arguments.
Bias as an Advantage
There are two types of biases in business negotiations – personal biases and stereotypes and cognitive biases that affect our decision-making on a different level.
The primary tactic to deal with a personal prejudice is to use your opponent’s bias to subvert expectations and make moves the other party wouldn’t normally expect. Flip the stereotype. If your opponents underestimate you based on their perceptions of you or your culture, use it to propose a much straightforward deal or a startling argument.
For a gender stereotype, merely try to act opposite to what others would think a person of your gender would act or react in certain scenarios. It can be either a more assertive and firm approach for women or a focus on communication and compassion for men.
If it’s a cognitive bias and hence has nothing to do with personal prejudice, you can use a technique called anchoring bias. Psychologists explain it as unconsciously relying too much on the first bit of information we come across. Use this bias to your advantage by making the first offer as extreme as possible and forcing the other side to doubt their initial expectations.
Availability bias also influences how we rely on any information we receive. We think that the examples we already have in our minds are more accurate than they actually are. We then don’t look for any extra information and are easily manipulated into choosing an option that better compares to situations we previously encountered.
This bias makes people judge options in negotiation not as separate options but in comparison to one another. Use this bias to lead your opponent into choosing a deal by offering one or a couple of other options not that attractive.
Even despite its clearly outdated nature, bias still continues to creep into our everyday life. Cognitive biases are more subtle. Hopefully, now you know how to recognize them, deal with them, and turn them to your advantage in negotiations. Click here if you’re interested in further improving your negotiation skills.