Anchoring can sink you

Canny negotiators know that people respond to anchors. If you tell me that your baseball card is for sale for $18, I'm unlikely to offer you $3. Your offering price anchored the conversation.

The thing is, we do this outside of negotiation, whenever we ask for insight.

If someone says, "can you review this slide deck?" there are a bunch of anchors already built in. Anchor: there are slides. Anchor: there are six slides. Anchor: the slides have text on them.

Before we can even have a conversation about whether or not there should even be a presentation, or whether the content is worth presenting, we're already anchored into slides and text and length. The right feedback might be: Do a presentation, but no slides. It might be: Use 100 slides. But these things rarely come up because the entire discussion was anchored at the start.

Great editors, great strategy consultants, great friends–they're generous enough and bold enough to unanchor the conversation and get to the original why at the beginning of a string of decisions.

Once in a while, start with zero, not with what might be the standard right now.

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