Attitude & Emotions Can Have Impact on Negotiation

Notes on Negotiation
Written by Marty LatzLatz Negotiation Institute

I recently hired a new executive assistant and one thing came through loud and clear in her interviews – one of our most important mutual interests was our potential compatibility and our respective attitudes toward our responsibilities.

She also brought a very positive attitude and professionalism to the table, and I felt that she could be fulfilled in the position, all critical attributes.

Importantly, there has been some recent research reported by the Harvard Negotiation Newsletter on similar attitudes’ impact in negotiations.

1. Satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers

According to the May issue, Shu-Cheng Steve Chi and his colleagues at the National Taiwan University recently completed a study that found “the degree to which salespeople enjoy their work has a significant impact on [their] customers’ satisfaction with the outcome of sales negotiations.”

And not only did the salespeople’s positive attitudes translate to happier and more satisfied customers [which leads to longer and better relationships and more and better deals], but their positive attitude was more impactful on their customers than price concessions.

So what should you do with your salespeople and other front-line negotiators? Focus on their job satisfaction. This will lead to less one-off deals and more productive long-lasting relationships with your counterparts.

2. Sadness comes with a cost

That same issue reported that “sad decision-makers will pay more for a commodity than will those in a neutral state,” based on research by Jennifer S. Lerner of the Harvard Kennedy School. Sadness, according to Lerner, “triggers impatience and, correspondingly, a preference … for receiving a smaller reward immediately than a later reward in the future.”

The lesson? Do not make significant negotiation-related financial decisions when you are down and be especially attuned to your mood in your negotiations.

3. Expressing anger and disappointment have an impact

Finally, Professor Gert-Jan Lelieveld and his colleagues at Leiden University found in a study involving college students that expressing apparent anger in a negotiation was viewed by their counterparts as a “sign of strength” leading to more generous offers by their counterparts, as reported in the September Newsletter.

By contrast, expressing disappointment led to mixed results. In situations where there was no affiliation between the parties (they had no real commonalities like going to the same college or growing up in the same town), the disappointment was viewed as a sign of weakness which led to tougher responses.

On the other hand, if such affiliation existed between the parties, the expressed disappointment led to a feeling of guilt by the perceiving party and more generous offers.

I’m not 100% sure how my new executive assistant will work out. It’s difficult to predict exactly how two people will work together long-term.

However, it appears we both have high expectations for our compatibility and working relationship, a happy (and not sad) attitude, and are mutually satisfied with our professional arrangement.

All of this should increase the likelihood that this will work out very well long-term – for both of us.

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Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or Latz@ExpertNegotiator.com

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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