A Surprising Negotiation Tactic That Works

Next time you are locked in a fierce negotiation, whether it's over a salary, a house sale or a business deal, it may not be a bad idea to make a few subtle, or even overt, threats, new research suggests.  When negotiating, you're more likely to get what you want with a threat than by getting angry.

"Our results say that anger isn't as effective as a simple threat in getting people to concede," says Margaret Neale, of Stanford Graduate School of Business, who conducted the research with Marwan Sinaceur, INSEAD professor of organizational behavior, and other colleagues.

The researchers proved these result by examining a series of negotiations among participants. The results were that both anger and threats led to concessions. Threats, however, were more likely to lead to a concession, though, because the research found that a perceived poise came with people who were making them. Threats, such as walking away from the negotiation, were seen as being most effective late in the negotiation process.

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"If I’m angry, I may say things I don’t mean, so my counterpart may believe I’m saying them in the heat of the moment," said Neale, the John G. McCoy-Banc One Corporation Professor of Organizations and Dispute Resolution at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  "The person who’s threatening appears more legitimate — it’s not someone just throwing a hissy fit."

The only caveat to this is that threats must be made without emotion.  If not, they can be perceived as anger. Additionally the research found that while anger in a negotiation may lead to more concessions than would have previously occurred, it can also negatively affect later negotiations because of the resentment it causes.

This research was recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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