The most powerful word in negotiations is “Fair”. People tend to comply with agreements if they feel they’ve been treated fairly but can also respond firmly if they haven’t.

As human beings, we tend to be influenced by how much we feel others have respected us.

Research studies show that human neural activity, particularly in the emotion-regulating insular cortex, reflects the degree of unfairness in social interactions. We don’t easily forget the circumstances and situations where we have been treated poorly.

The most common and useful use of the word FAIR is a ninja-like defensive move that tends to soften the other side.

This tool of influence usually takes the form of something like, “We just want what’s fair”. Think back to the last time that someone made this implied accusation of unfairness to you. I’m sure that you will admit that it instantly triggered feelings of defensiveness and discomfort. These feelings are often subconscious and can lead to an irrational concession.

A second use of the “F” word is more underhanded as a negotiation tool. In this one, your counterpart will imply that you are stupid or dishonest by saying “We’ve given you a fair offer”. It’s usually a pushy ploy that is meant to distract your attention and manipulate you into giving in. The other party is shifting the focus on your supposed understanding of fairness. You need to be on your guard for this and respond carefully if you want negotiations to move forward constructively. 

The most powerful word in negotiations is “Fair”. Use it ethically and positively if you wish to make deals that last a long time. However, be aware of it when it is used against you in a manipulative way.

That sounds fair to me, do you agree?