The Psychology of Negotiation: How to Use Influence and Persuasion

In any job, there will be times when it’s necessary to negotiate. Whether it’s persuading your boss, pitching an idea to stakeholders, selling a product to customers, or deciding on a project deadline with colleagues, there will always be reasons to negotiate. Although some negotiations are fairly easy, others may be a bit more challenging. That’s why it can be helpful to understand how to overcome challenges surrounding negotiation and persuasion. Here are some helpful tips for handling difficult situations and creating better opportunities through the power of persuasion and negotiation.

What is Persuasion?

Persuasion refers to one’s ability to convince others to adopt a particular belief, attitude, or behavior. Persuasion involves using effective communication and argumentation techniques to influence the other person’s perception and decision-making process. Persuasion and influence can be powerful tools for negotiators, as these strategies can help both parties reach mutually acceptable outcomes. The degree to which you are able to use influence and persuasion to appeal to the emotions of others will determine how successfully you sell your ideas and achieve your desired results. 

Laws of Persuasion

In order to fully understand how persuasion works and master the skill, you must understand some basic principles, or the Laws of Persuasion. These laws describe how most people respond to certain situations based on psychological research. The best negotiators are those who understand how human beings respond to certain stimuli and can therefore use this information to persuade and influence others. 

1. Law of Reciprocity

In most cases, people feel an obligation to repay what they have received from others. If someone gives you something you want, you now feel an obligation to reciprocate. A great example of this is the free address labels you receive in the mail. People tend to donate to charity because they feel compelled to return the favor.

2. Law of Commitment and Consistency

Once a person takes a position on something, they generally tend to stick with it and justify their position, even if it’s wrong. This is why salespeople try to get you to agree with them over and over, because once you do, it’s harder to change your position. 

3. Law of Liking

Salespeople are often great at making small talk and finding common ground with others. That’s because if people like you or feel like they have something in common with you, they are more likely to want to please you. For example, if your friend is hosting an in-home sales party, you may feel more inclined to make a purchase because you don’t want to disappoint your friend. 

4. Law of Scarcity

How often have you been compelled to make a purchase because there was “only one left” or this sale is “for a limited time only?” People naturally assume that if there is a limited supply of an item, it must be good and they don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get it. 

5. Law of Authority 

Advertisers use the law of authority every time they promote their brand using a celebrity or expert in the field. For example, you may purchase a toothpaste because it is “recommended by dentists” or you may want to buy a product that is used by a celebrity. People assume that if it’s good enough for these experts and celebrities, it must be good enough for me. 

6. Law of Social Proof

Whether we realize it or not, people are influenced by the behaviors of those around them. If others are doing something, then we assume it must be the right thing to do. A prime example of this is the laugh tracks in television sitcoms. We laugh along with the show because we assume it to be “socially acceptable.”


Good negotiators seek to create win-win outcomes and this means that all parties believe they are getting a good deal. At first, all parties may not agree on what a good deal looks like, so expert negotiators will use the Laws of Persuasion to steer the conversation toward their desired outcome.