According to the Schranner Concept®, starting a negotiation with a powerful first demand is crucial to influence the process and outcome of a negotiation positively.
Opponents of this view might claim that it is not necessarily problematic if the other party makes the first steps in negotiations. According to them, initiating negotiations with the opposing party and taking the first steps may not necessarily yield adverse effects. This stance posits that affording the other party some degree of control in the initial stages does not inherently place one at a disadvantage. Proponents of this alternative viewpoint assert that such a gesture can foster an environment of cooperation and goodwill right from the outset, potentially laying the groundwork for a more productive and collaborative negotiation process.
However, a closer examination of the available scientific research underscores the critical nature of entering negotiations with a position of strength right from the start. A wealth of empirical studies converge on the idea that the timing and nature of presenting the initial demand can substantially influence the negotiation’s trajectory and eventual outcome. Through the strategic formulation of the initial demand, one can establish the negotiation’s framework and tone, as exemplified by research such as that of Galinsky and Mussweiler (2001).1
This insight becomes particularly pronounced when considering the “anchoring effect” phenomenon. This cognitive bias, whereby individuals place disproportionate weight on the first piece of information presented to them, has profound implications for negotiation dynamics. Through this psychological tendency, the initial demand serves as a potent reference point around which subsequent negotiations revolve. Consequently, an assertive opening can influence the negotiation range and steer the negotiation spectrum in the desired direction.2
In addition to the anchoring effect, a power-conscious opening allows one to take control of the negotiation from the beginning. By setting a clear starting point, a negotiator signals confidence in the own position and credibility as a skilled and authoritative party in the negotiation process. This dynamic establishes a tone conducive to steering the negotiation towards a successful outcome.
In essence, a powerful opening supports steering the negotiation toward success right from the beginning. Simultaneously, the initial request needs to be suitable. An excessively high demand could dishearten the other party and prematurely halt the negotiation process. Thus, striking the right balance between assertiveness and reasonableness is critical to achieving favorable negotiation outcomes.
1 Galinsky, A. D., & Mussweiler, T. 2001. First offers as anchors: The role of perspective-taking and negotiator focus. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(4): 657–669
2 Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. 1974. Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases: Biases in judgments reveal some heuristics of thinking under uncertainty. Science, 185(4157): 1124–1131.