The economists over at Harvard Business School Working Knowledge have discovered something that should help you get a better raise this year.

In addition to establishing the bargaining range by making the first proposal, you can influence the nature of the negotiation and its outcome by characterizing the endeavor as cooperative and the goal as fairness.

As the authors of Communication Frames in Negotiation explain, if you use the language of fairness, equity, and mutual benefit, you can set fair dealing in motion by influencing which arguments and strategies are appropriate to use (cooperative rather than competitive) and strongly influence the outcome.

These findings rely not only upon the degree to which communication “primes” your negotiation partner to behave in accordance with the suggested values, but also to avoid the guilt that accompanies the violation of a folkway, whether it is of long or short duration.

As the authors explain, “priming” a negotiation with the language of fairness creates in your bargaining partner “a willingness to forgo monetary payoffs to avoid breaking [the] perceived promise” of behaving in a cooperative manner.

Though the working paper is burdened with the language of the academy, it is worth taking a look at.

As I discussed recently in the post Why Are People Throwing Fruit at This Yale Professor, the power of suggestion - known to academics as “priming” - is so strong that we’ll favorably review a job candidate if we’re holding something warm in our hands and respond less favorably to the candidate if someone hands us a bottle of cold Pepsi just before we pick up.

Continuing Reading—

by Victoria Pynchon

Victoria Pynchon is an attorney-mediator and arbitrator. She is also a principal in the She Negotiates Consulting and Training firm for which her blog “She Negotiates” is named. In addition to writing for the legal blog “On the Docket,” Pynchon also authored the book “A is for A**hole, the Grownups' ABCs of Conflict Resolution.