How to Use Psychology to Get What You Want

You don’t have to be a master negotiator to close that important business deal. Psychological research suggests that there are plenty of ways to motivate people to do what you want, without them even realizing it. So, the next time you’re trying to negotiate a higher salary, get the best pricing from a supplier, or close that high-stakes deal with a client, consider the following psychological maneuvers that will help you increase your odds of getting what you want. 

The Reciprocity Norm

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book that simply refers to the old adage, “You scratch my bike, I’ll scratch yours.” Research has shown that people are more likely to do something for you if you have done a favor for them. In most cases, people feel an obligation to repay you for the favor. So, how can you use this in negotiating? First, do a favor for your counterpart. Perhaps you show up to the meeting with a cup of coffee or a nice pastry. You may even offer to take them to lunch. When the time comes to negotiate, there’s now a better chance you can persuade them into your way of thinking. 

Maintain Eye Contact

Making eye contact with another person with whom you are speaking is more than just being polite, it can increase awareness and understanding. Eye contact can help you display honesty, create a bond with the other person, build respect, and foster attraction. This simple technique is a great way to get the other person to do what you want without having to say a word. 

Choose the Right Environment

“Priming” is a powerful psychological phenomenon in which one stimulus produces a specific response to another stimulus unconsciously. For example, if you placed someone in a room with a briefcase, portfolio, and fountain pen and then made them an offer, there’s a higher chance they will fight for more money than if they were in a living room with pillows and snacks. That’s because the business-related objects elicited a sense of competitiveness. This tactic could be used when negotiating in much the same way. Rather than meeting in a boardroom, consider meeting in a coffee shop. 

Mimic People’s Body Language

Scientists refer to this as the “Chameleon Effect” and it’s what happens when subtly mimicking someone else’s body language. For example, you might sit in your chair the same way the other person does, nod your head the same way, or copy their facial expressions and mannerisms. Researchers have found that we like people who have similar body language so this can help you get what you want. 

Start Small

Referred to as the “Foot in the Door Technique,” this psychological technique involves asking the other person to do something very small. It could be as simple as asking them for the time or asking them to hand you something. Once they have helped you in even the smallest way, it becomes difficult for them to back out. So, gradually work your way up and eventually you can ask for larger favors. 

Use the Person’s Official Name

People love when you refer to them by their official name and title. Using titles such as Mr., Mrs., Dr., Professor, and so on help to make the other person feel respected. This also makes the conversation feel more personal and intimate. Instead of making the person feel forced into something they don’t want to do, this simple technique makes the person feel important and in control.