Inventing a mental anchor can help you in a negotiation.
This is not because of some cliche thing about bluffing.
It is because the starting point of a conversation matters.
For instance, say that I was a director of human resources for some Fortune 500 company.
You and I bump into each other at some event and strike up a conversation.
You say that you are casually looking for other opportunities in project management but are not really interested in anything under $200,000 per year.
Now I may, or may not, have any great offers for you.
But I will definitely think about you and your possible competency in a different way than had you said – $40,000 per year.
Heck, someone who casually asks for a quarter of a million dollars per year might be enormously talented.
The point is that in any future discussion of you and a new job – that $200,000 number is stuck in my mind.
In a way, this is similar to how the principle of association works.
You see this technique most often from good negotiators. They open with a ridiculously low or ridiculously high offer to bias the other side in that direction. For example, suppose you offered to be my consultant and I have no idea what your services are worth. If the first thing you tell me is that some clients pay you $1,000 per hour, I’m more likely to agree to a higher price than if the first number you told me was $100. The initial number becomes a mental anchor that is hard to move. That’s why you should always be the first to offer numbers, even if you are talking about an entirely different situation.
-Scott Adams, Win Bigly