Use mental anchors to determine the start position of high-stakes discussions

The next time you find yourself in a tricky situation, try to influence the discussion by anchoring at another reference point.

Time-dependent algorithms usually have one major issue. The starting value heavily decides the outcome. The same applies to your mind’s thinking process.

Anchoring our thinking process

Time-dependent algorithms usually depend on the starting value of a specific variable. Depending on the starting rate, the result can be completely different.

The same is true for your mind. A different starting value can lead to another perception.

This concept is also called anchoring

Anchoring the perception

If you enter a bazaar and the seller starts with a price, he has anchored the price discussion on a specific value. The standard advice is to make a counteroffer with an equally offending low price.

Kahneman suggests that the best approach is not to start with an opposing low number. The contrast principle will lead to a higher price on your part, as the seller has anchored the price. Even if you know the contrast principle as a sales strategy, you will bear the psychological load: you will experience your position as unjustified and amorally.

Resist anchoring by breaking the pattern

Instead, Kahnemann suggests that you should abort any interaction. Make a scene and storm out. You will emotionally brand the initial offer as outlandishly high and attach a negative emotion to it.

When you come back to the store, the emotional charge is on the seller to offer a lower price.