Whether you’re negotiating, involved in mediation, litigating or trying to win an argument at the dinner table your proposal may be more effective if it’s not only specific to the person you’re talking to but to a particular part of the person’s brain.

According to Neuromarketing there are three main parts of the brain all with different functions.

  • The youngest (in evolutionary terms) and outermost layer processes written language, engages in complex thinking, calculation and rationalizing decisions.
  • The middle section processes emotional responses and is responsible for the “gut feelings” of your decisions.
  • The oldest and most inner part of the brain has been called the “reptilian” part because it’s the oldest in evolutionary terms. Its work includes instinct, survival, avoiding pain and making decisions. It’s the gatekeeper that decides whether an issue needs to be worked on by the “higher” brain areas.

If your approach gets the attention and approval of the inner reptile you have a much better chance of guiding the other person to agreeing with you. The inner reptile,

  • Is more concerned with avoiding pain in order to survive than with enjoying pleasure. Discuss the direct benefits of your approach and how the party will avoid or alleviate some kind of pain if he or she adopts it.
  • Responds to emotions. What drives decision making is mostly subconscious. It doesn’t involve the cognitive parts of the brain initially. Drive the agreement you seek by triggering the emotional pain point of the party.
  • Likes it when people talk about it. Address your argument to the party, don’t make it abstract. How will your approach help the person? Use “you” when asking questions and making statements.
  • Is a skeptic so provide evidence your approach is the way to go. Help the person visualize your proposal and how it will solve the problem. Show how your way will provide more value than it will cost.
  • Focuses on survival so it’s most alert after a change occurs to evaluate possible danger. It directs its attention to the start and the end of your proposal. Start and finish strong, the middle (as good as it may be) will likely get less attention.
  • Is not complex, so,
    • Use more easily understood messages because they are more likely to get attention and it speeds up the decision making process.
    • Use contrast. What will happen if they take the deal? Good things. Pain avoided or lessened. What will happen if the deal is rejected? Bad things. New pain or more of the old pain.
    • Use simple, short sentences.

If you want a better chance of having your proposal accepted, it needs to be attractive and appetizing to the other party’s inner reptile. Win the day by feeding the other party’s inner reptile.

Steve Mehta is a professional full-time mediator who specializes in mediating complex and emotional cases. A leading Los Angeles mediator, Mr. Mehta has been repeatedly selected as a Super Lawyer in mediation and is highly regarded by both sides to mediation. To schedule mediations, please visit SteveMehta.com