Let’s be nice and just say car dealers are practiced and aggressive negotiators. If they didn’t know how to maintain the upper hand, they’d be out of business. And a big part of keeping that upper hand isn’t about the details of the deal itself, so much as controlling the emotional balance of a negotiation. If they can pull your heartstrings and define the emotional context of a negotiation, the deal will fall into their hands.
Take your average car buyer: Let’s assume he or she is not a practiced negotiator. In fact, the prospect of a lively negotiation makes him cringe. The balance is already beginning to tip into the other party’s favor. The less tolerance you have for the emotional stress of negotiating, the quicker you’re likely to settle, says Michel Tuan Pham, professor of business at Columbia University. “It pushes you to seek closure to get rid of those bad feelings,” says Pham.”