If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!! Do you remember this statement? This was the famous line of the trial of the century, the OJ Simpson trial. A murderer got away basically with that line. Why? People rely heavily on an heuristic approach or a mental shortcut when they lack clear evidence or motivation to analyze and evaluate the content of a message (e.g., Eagly and Chaiken, 1993).

In simple terms, the heuristic answer is a shotgun approach to difficult questions and as a result often imperfect or wrong. There are many heuristic approaches that could influence your judgment in negotiation if you are not aware of them. It’s useful to appreciate those general human tendencies that affect everyone’s decision-making behavior, even in the most rational negotiations. I share one of them here and soon will uncover others; stay tuned.

Researchers have found that people in certain situations base their judgement of a statement’s truth in part on its aesthetic qualities. In the following case, it is rhyme as the reason for judging accuracy and truthfulness of the statement.

Matthew McGlone and Jessica Tofighbakhsh of Department of Psychology,Lafayette College, Easton Pennsylvania asked subjects to judge the comprehensibility and ostensible accuracy of unfamiliar aphorisms presented in their original rhyming form (e.g., Woes unite foes) or a semantically equivalent non-rhyming form (Woes unite enemies). Although the different versions were perceived as equally comprehensible, the rhyming versions were perceived as more accurate. The rhyme of this statement if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit, showed to be more powerful than a scientific explanation of facts and influenced the decision making of the jurors.

Another common phrase, is an apple a day keeps the doctor away. While a heuristic approach works well enough for many of the decisions we make everyday and often has a reliable basis in truth, it can lead us astray with stereotypes, prejudices, or over-simplifications that have little to do with fact or logic. Shortcut thinking can often prove counter to our interests.

In negotiations with important issues at stake, we must remain vigilant against the human tendency to trust limited personal experience, “everyone says” information, or unexamined assumptions as the basis for wise and safe results.

Learn how to overcome your biases, tap into your true intuition and transform your skills in negotiation by learning Enlightened Negotiation at