You may have already seen the video of me talking about anchoring, but it is such a key area of successful negotiation, that I want to give you a bit more detail here. Please let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Anchoring – What Is It?

Anchoring is one of the most powerful concepts in negotiation. It is often the effectiveness of your anchoring (or that of your counter-part) which will determine the outcome of the negotiation.

Anchoring includes such behaviours as:

  • getting your price/proposal on the table first
  • reinforcing your position whenever possible
  • getting the other party to discuss your proposal
  • getting the other party to try and pull you from your position
  • moving from your position with reluctance
  • moving in relation to your last position, not theirs

Many people make the mistake of allowing or even inviting the other party to propose first in a negotiation. They do this so that they can then see how far they can move them from that position, and they feel satisfied when they do so. This is anchoring in evidence but in the other party’s favour.

Should I Ever Let Them Go First?

The only time you should want the other party to go first is if you think that either:

  1. they will make a mistake in your favour
  2. you will make a mistake in their favour

How often will option 1 happen? If they are experienced in the market or product in question, then it is unlikely.

Option 2 should never happen. You should have (or create) the time and inclination to research the market and make sure that you know what an appropriate opening position looks like.

Some Things To Remember When Anchoring

Anchoring does not mean rushing, or arguing in negotiation. Do not get drawn into talking about their proposal. You may ask them to justify it, to see what substance exists behind it, then you should reject it appropriately and return to your proposal.

Anchoring can be subtle or overt. You must decide on the circumstances of your negotiation as to how subtle your anchoring needs to be. Sometimes sending through your proposal in advance of the meeting can get the other party partially or fully anchored to your position at an earlier stage than normal.



Dan Hughes

He has specialised in negotiation consulting since 2005, and set up his own business in 2012 bringing this expertise to businesses small and large in all parts of the world. This company - bridge][ability ltd - runs behavioural and strategic planning negotiation skills programs which transform capabilities and has a client list which includes Tesco, The FA, Fujitsu, Capita, Reiss, Take 2 Interactive (the company behind Grand Theft Auto), BBC Worldwide and Channel 4.

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