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Be first to a number

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

The Nurses union has waged an excellent public campaign during its pay negotiations, but it got beaten by the “first to a number” trick.

The DHB’s released details of the latest pay offer, but this time gave an estimate of what the pay deal may deliver a nurse in certain circumstances: $93,000.

The union’s angry complaints about ‘dirty tricks’ revealed the power of the single number phenomenon.

The first side to provide a number establishes an anchor, not only in negotiations, but in public discourse. Once you’ve heard that number you can’t forget it. It becomes a repeated reference point for everything that happens afterwards.

It was the same tactic used by Steven Joyce with his infamous election campaign claim of a $11.7b fiscal hole in Labour’s budget.

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