Given time to reflect on our acts, most of us would have done something slightly different. In some cases, substantially different. This is human nature. It is called cognitive dissonance or buyer’s remorse.
Buyer’s remorse can undermine a lot of good agreements. Mediators, negotiators and everyone involved in structured conflict resolution reinforce decisions and document important agreements to stave off this very human propensity to try to change the deal.
So should the rest of us as we resolve conflict in our everyday lives.
There are ways to avoid falling prey to buyer’s remorse yourself. The key is to know what your objective is, what it is worth to you, and what you are prepared to offer to achieve it. This disciplined approach to preparing for a negotiation should enable you to recognize the right settlement opportunity if and when it presents itself and not later question if it was the right decision.
If you are tempted to accept an initial offer, slow down. If you accept right away, the offering party might become concerned sensing that they offered too much or asked too little. Even if the offer is acceptable, argue a bit to make sure the other person becomes committed, a.k..a. satisfied, with the terms. Appear to struggle internally before the final commitment for good measure.
When you visibly show that you are struggling to accept the other person’s terms it helps to cement the agreement by rewarding the other person with the satisfaction that you have given more than you intended. Remember, for the most part, Twenty-First Century negotiations are psychological battles rather than lethal encounters.
You need to win the minds of your opponent because you can’t simply shoot them!
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss various aspects of cognitive dissonance or buyer’s remorse and how to handle it. I also address what happens when you actually have to change your mind and go back to change the deal.