I'm no Psychologist but I was introduced to the theory of cognitive influences at last year's Edge event and the speaker and the subject have fascinated me ever since.
Latest from news from Psychology Today reports that setting "specific anchors" rather than general ones can increase success and satisfaction when negotiating anything from salaries, selling houses or buying cars. Getting you closer to what you REALLY WANT.
As a recruiter, salary negotiations are part of my day to day job, but in general as a nation, it's seldom we talk about salary and understandably it's something many can feel uncomfortable about.
Even when asked a direct question it's common for people to display behaviour associated with embarrassment when negotiating ££££ on your salary.
We regularly generalise, putting what we really want into "brackets" or "ballparks".
We're British and it's crass to talk about what we earn - right?
As a result, we regularly fudge around aspirational numbers, courting all sorts of rational and irrational human behaviour such as:
- fear of loss
- fear asking too much
- fear of appearing greedy
- concern over selling ourselves too short
- or even being paranoid about being taken advantage of
How often when applying for a new role, when talking to recruiters or even your own employer, have you been very specific about your expectations?
Do you even know exactly what your basic salary is currently? What about all of the digits in the hundreds column let alone the thousands one?
This article explains the science and tests the behaviour behind the theory.
Interesting read. Give the "Specific Anchor" method a go next time you're negotiating.
One of the biggest cognitive influences on any negotiation is the anchor. Whenever you are negotiating about something like a salary, there is some starting number that gets things going. That initial number often has a significant impact on the rest of the negotiation. Suppose you want to buy a house. A very general anchor like $500,000 suggests that the seller wants to get something in that ballpark, but giving a lower counter offer like $425,000 does not seem unreasonable. However, when a more specific anchor is used, it suggests that the rest of the digits in the anchor also have meaning. So, if the seller asks for $522,000, then the seller seems committed all the way down to the thousands column of the number. So, perhaps a counter-offer of $505,000 (or perhaps $495,000) seems a large step down.