Words Matter in a Negotiation

Did you know that using the seemingly innocent phrase “This is a good deal” in a negotiation can actually kill your deal? In my research I have uncovered several words and phrases that act as negative emotional triggers, causing anger and frustration in the other party, often leading to no agreement.

“This is a good deal” is harmful because it implies superiority and no one likes to feel inferior. What the other party actually hears when this phrase is used is, “This is a good deal, why can’t you see that stupid?”

This phrase also invokes the fixed pie bias, a social psychological phenomenon where people believe that if it is good for one side it must be bad for the other. So when I say “This is a good deal” the other party thinks, “If this is so good for you, it must be bad for me,” causing resistance and a demand for more.

Although you can’t change what other people say, you can change the interaction in a positive way by being careful of the words and phrases you use.

Avoid using words and phrases that label your own behavior as superior such as saying “I’m being reasonable” or “I know what I’m doing.”