Thursday, December 08, 2011

Anxious Negotiators Lose Big Time!

Wharton Professor Maurice Schweitzer and graduate student Alison Wood Brooks have published an interesting paper titled, "Can Nervous Nelly Negotiate? How Anxiety Causes Negotiators to Make Low First Offers, Exit Early, and Earn Less Profit."  The scholars examine the effects of anxiety on business negotiations.   Not surprisingly, they find that anxiety can be very harmful in a negotiation. The study goes one step further though.  It shows precisely how anxiety harms negotiators.   Specifically, the researchers found that more anxious negotiators made lower initial offers, and they responded to others' offers more quickly.   Those behaviors contributed to the fact that anxious negotiators ultimately achieved worse outcomes. 

Why do anxious negotiators behave in this manner?  Schweitzer and Brooks explain that anxiety seems to induce conflict avoidance.  Anxiety often brings with it a desire to minimize the likelihood of confrontation with the other party.   However, the desire to avoid confrontation often drives a negotiator to compromise prematurely or advocate for their own interests less forcefully.   The lesson is clear:  If you are feeling anxious, step back for a moment and collect yourself before beginning a negotiation.  Your anxiety may not just make you feel sick to your stomach; it may lighten your wallet too! 


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Find-A-way said...

Absolutely correct anxiety to avoid a conflict makes one lose out. I am facing an extended family conflict for valuation of a property. A relative who jointly owns the property has low balled offer to buy us out. I get anxious at his presence because he clouts negotiations with family relationship and drama irrelevant to the property. Emotional bullying from childhood to this date. This article is an eye opener and realization for me. Where can I learn on the art of not showing my anxiety and facing this conflict. Family conflict and anxiety are worse cases.

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