Shaping the Game


What techniques can you use to present the issues in such a way that they cause the other side to embrace the conclusion you believe to be right and reject the the conclusion you feel are wrong?

  • Invoke a common benefit. Emphasize the collective benefit and diminish the costs to the individuals.
  • Show them the cost to both of you of no deal. People have risk aversion biases. Emphasize the potential gains. Frame your desired course of action as less risky while framing their course of action as more risky.
  • Try “kick in the mouth”. Ask for a lot at the beginning knowing it will be rejected. Then, immediately follow up with a less aggressive demand. People tend to view your initial request as an anchor from which any reductions in demand from you as more moderate and a concession.
  • Consider the breadth of your request. A broad request can be viewed as too overarching and precedent setting. Narrowing the focus of your request can be seen as less intimidating.
  • Try to avoid win-lose propositions. By enlarging the “pie” you expand the number of options to be beneficially traded.
  • Ask what you can do to help them sell their decision to their constituency. Likewise, what can they do to help you sell it to your constituency?
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