We all make decisions on an everyday basis – from finances, time-management, who to love, and even who to do business with. Have you ever been in a situation where you presented the best possible offer to someone, but they just didn’t fall for it? You constructed the perfect argument, backed it up with the facts, in such a way that there was no other logical solution (or proposition). But still, the person making the decision didn’t think so – or so it seems.
When negotiators sit down to mediate a conflict and hammer a deal, they arm themselves with facts and attempt to use logic to sway decisions by involved parties. They reason that by piling up data to explain various sides of the situation, they can easily create a solution that’s irrefutable – so that the involved parties say yes!
But they’re doomed to fail. Why? Decision making isn’t logical, it’s emotional. And that’s backed up by the latest research in neuroscience.
Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, recently made a ground shaking discovery. He analyzed people who suffered damage in the region of the brain responsible for generating emotions. These people appeared to be very normal, only that they weren’t able to feel emotions. They also had something very peculiar in common – an inability to make decisions. They had no difficulties logically explaining what they were doing. But when it came to making decisions – even the simplest ones such as what to drink – it was very hard.
Based on this study, neuroscientists have realized that emotions play a major role when it comes to making decisions. Even when people are making what they believe to be logical decisions, the major decision point is always based on emotions. This finding has a profound impact not only on negotiators but also everyone else. Individuals who think that they can just build a case through reason alone are very likely to fail. Logic usually relies on opinions, assumptions and guesses. However, when negotiating something, you can never really assume that the other person will see things in the same way as you do.
It’s not a good idea to tell your opponent what’s best – or what to think. What you can do is help them discover for themselves. Discover what feels best and most beneficial to them. Everyone makes the final decision about anything based on self-interest, and that is emotional. It’s about what’s best for them and their side. This understanding has often been used by marketers and lots of other professionals. It also explains, to an extent, why people fall in love with the unlikeliest fellows. Despite what everyone else is thinking, they make the decision because they feel it’ll be the most advantageous thing to do for themselves.