Positive framing is as much art as it is practical. To get it right, you need to not only understand your own value and strength but also the power of perception.
By presenting things in a positive light, you can wield influence in negotiations and reach win-win outcomes. But, rather than focus on manipulative tactics like trying to get a “no” from the other party by presenting a loss of value, framing things positively can help nurture long-term relationships that offer value far beyond a single negotiation.
That’s exactly what we teach here at RED BEAR. Our mission is to transform individuals into world-class negotiators. Our methods rest on the foundational principles and behaviors that drive successful negotiations.
Ready to learn more about positive framing? Let’s dive in.
The Human Bias Toward Loss Aversion
At its core, loss aversion is people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Makes sense, right?
To put it in perspective, it’s the pain of losing $10 versus the joy of finding a crumpled-up Hamilton on the sidewalk. The former feels more intense than the latter — and it’s a common human experience we all most likely share.
From a survivability perspective, our ancestors had to prioritize immediate threats (like avoiding predators) over potential gains (like finding new sources of food). This ancient wiring still influences modern decision-making, even in non-life-threatening situations.
How does this impact decision-making? Well, due to this inherent bias, when faced with a decision, most of us overemphasize the potential losses. This can lead to suboptimal choices, as people might avoid beneficial opportunities to avert any potential risk of loss.
This loss aversion concept is nothing new and has some deep roots in the behavioral sciences and behavioral economics.
Prospect Theory, outlined by Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, is quite simple: people prefer small guarantees over large, risky outcomes.
So, how can we use this to our advantage in negotiations?
The Strength of Positive Framing
Positive framing emphasizes the benefits of gains in a negotiation over the potential losses or drawbacks. It capitalizes on our cognitive biases, reframing situations in a positive light that promotes optimism and action.
While our brains might be hardwired toward loss aversion, they are also susceptible to the persuasive power of positivity. Positive framing taps into this by highlighting potential gains, making the option seem more attractive.
How do you approach positive framing? Here is the way we tackle this at RED BEAR:
- First, we need to identify as much relevant information as possible. To do this, ask the right questions. Expert negotiators tend to ask 2.5 times more questions than average negotiators and do one-third of the talking.
- Next, identify common themes and groupings. A single piece of information can lead to numerous themes.
- Last, pick your strongest positioning theme.
Positioning is a critical tool in any negotiator's kit, but go for quality over quantity.
Research suggests that top-tier negotiators employ only half the data that their average counterparts do when presenting their arguments. Rather than inundating their audience with an exhaustive list of features and advantages to validate their price or solution, they select a few compelling points and consistently echo these throughout the negotiation process.
In the end, positive framing can improve decision-making, inspire confidence, and promote proactive behavior. It can quickly shift the focus from what one stands to lose to what one stands to gain.
Framing also plays into the power dynamic in negotiations. Power is your ability to favorably influence the outcome of a negotiation by analyzing, assessing, and managing all the factors that affect power — and framing is critical here.
In the study we touched on earlier, participants were given a choice in a hypothetical life-or-death scenario. They were prompted to choose between a scenario where 200 people would certainly be saved against one where there was a 33% chance of success at saving 600 people, along with a 66% chance that everyone would perish.
Despite offering “equal expected value,” participants overwhelmingly chose the first option 82% of the time. That’s the power of positive framing.
Practical Examples of Positive vs. Negative Framing
Okay, that’s enough research and theory; let’s put these ideas into practice. We’ll walk through both positive and negative framing so you can be the judge.
Supply Chain Management
- Positive: Partner with our efficient logistics service to reduce your delivery times by up to 20%!
- Negative: Continue with your current logistics partner and risk longer delivery times.
- Positive: Invest in our state-of-the-art machinery and improve product efficiency by 40%.
- Negative: Keep your outdated equipment and compromise production efficiency.
- Positive: Secure a contract with us now and guarantee a steady supply for the next two years at a fixed rate.
- Negative: Delaying a contract decision could expose you to fluctuating market prices in the future.
The Impact of Positive Framing
Those are just a few examples of what framing might look like in practice. Now, ask yourself, who would you want to work with? Remember, the long-term value of building relationships significantly outweighs taking advantage of a client for a one-time deal.
If our goal is to build relationships that pay off for years to come, we want to nurture these relationships and use our influence responsibly.
By positioning your case advantageously, you can clearly convey your value. Just try to keep your positive framing theme simple. Throwing too many data points at a client can quickly add confusion to negotiations.
Of course, data points are still essential. When building a value proposition, stick to only your best points.
At the end of the day, when you master positive framing and build an effective value proposition, you can extend the range of reason in a negotiation — helping you maximize outcomes.
Don’t think the other party already knows the value of your proposition, either. The art of positive framing puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you more control over the perception of your offer.
Master Positive Framing with RED BEAR
Positive framing is the combination of several key principles of negotiation. It’s the product of effective theming/positioning, information management, and a firm understanding of your full range and strength of power.
Here at RED BEAR, we focus on the fundamentals of negotiations. We don’t use manipulative tactics or one-time-use strategies. Our training is rooted in the concepts and methods that drive successful negotiations.
We don’t just stand by our teachings; we have the numbers to back up our claims.
In fact, for every dollar invested in RED BEAR Training, our clients get back an average of $54 — talk about value.
For more information on our training programs, be sure to connect with the team today.
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