Category Archives: Business Communication

Business Communication

Women Balance on the Negotiation Tightrope to Avoid Backlash

Linda Babcock

Women less frequently negotiate initial salaries than men, leading to a long-term wage disparity, reported Carnegie-Mellon University’s Linda Babcock.

Hannah Riley Bowles

Women who did negotiate were negatively evaluated by both men and women participants in a lab study, found Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles and Lei Lai.
These volunteers reported less desire to work with women who asked for more money.

Lei Lai

Lei Lai

Both male and female evaluators said they disliked “demandingness” among women who negotiated, and said they preferred “nicer” non-negotiators.
However, reducing women’s degree of assertiveness did not improve evaluators’s perceptions of women negotiators.

These findings support Babcock’s results:   When male and female volunteers asked for salary increases using identical scripts in controlled lab situations, participants liked men’s style, but disliked the same words from women.
Women negotiators were considered “aggressive” unless they smiled, or displayed a warm, friendly manner.

The social reaction to women negotiators was improved when female participants:

  • Justified the salary request based on a supporting “business case,”
  • Communicated concern for organizational relationships.

Applying these tactics did not improve women’s negotiation outcomes, but improved other people’s reactions to women negotiators.

In contrast, women negotiators improved both social and negotiation outcomes when they justified the salary request based on the relationship.

Women who smile and focus on the interpersonal relationship fulfill gender role expectations, leading to greater approval by male and female observers.

Kathleen McGinn

Kathleen McGinn

Bowles, with Harvard colleague Kathleen McGinn and Babcock, suggested that “situational ambiguity” and “gender triggers” modify women’s willingness to negotiate.

When women have information about the potential salary range and whether the salary is negotiable, they are more likely to negotiate.
Women can improve their negotiation outcomes by asking:

  • the salary range,
  • which elements of the compensation package are negotiable.
Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink

Effective negotiation is a survival skill, according to Dan Pink:
The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness.
It has helped our species evolve, lifted our living standards, and enhanced our daily lives.

He noted that effective persuaders and “sellers” collaborate in “inspecting” a negotiation and “responding” to the negotiation through “interpersonal attunement.”

Pink suggested ABC negotiation skills:

Attunement: Aligning actions and attitudes with others,

Buoyancy:  “Positivity,” optimism, asking questions,

Clarity:  Helping others identify unrecognized needs that can be fulfilled by the negotiation proposal.

Joan Williams

Joan Williams

UC Hastings College of the Law’s Joan Williams offered strategies to address documented wage discrepancies.

As more women negotiate salaries, managers may view this as an expected practice.

  • What is the best negotiation pitch you’ve heard for a job-related salary increase or role promotion?
  • How did the person overcome objections?
  • How did the person manage the relationship with the negotiating partner?

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©Kathryn Welds

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“Everything is Negotiable”: Prepare, Ask, Revise, Ask Again

Anna Beninger

Anna Beninger

 

Alixandra Pollack

Alixandra Pollack

Women negotiated salaries less frequently than men, leading to a persistent compensation gaps for women MBA graduates from 26 leading business schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, in a study by Catalyst’s Anna Beninger and Alixandra Pollack.

Similarly, women in academic medicine earned about 80 percent of their male peers’ compensation in a salary study by Harvard’s Catherine DesRoches, Sowmya Rao, Lisa Iezzoni, and Eric Campbell with Darren Zinner of Brandeis.

Catherine DesRoches

Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock reported that women MBAs earn USD $500,000 – USD $2 million less over their careers than their male classmates.
She linked this difference to men’s greater willingness to negotiate salary and promotions.

Babcock, with Sara Laschever, outlined precursors of these negotiation differences based on gender socialization.

Linda Babcock

They observed that many parents encourage boys to take risks, earn money, and participate in competitive team sports.
These activities prepare boys to negotiate, compete, and tolerate disrupted interpersonal relationships, according to Babcock and Laschever.

In contrast, they noted that parents may instead encourage girls to play collaboratively and value interpersonal affiliation.

John List

John List

The gender-based wage gap’s association with women not negotiating salaries and preferring less competitive work roles, was also reported by University of Chicago’s John List, Andreas Leibbrandt, and Jeffrey Flory.

Their research studied respondents to two identical “job ads” on internet job boards with different wage structures.
One position offered hourly pay whereas the other role’s pay depended on performance compared with coworkers.
More women than men applied to the hourly wage role.

Andreas Leibbrandt

Andreas Leibbrandt

Men were 94 percent more likely than women to seek and perform well in competitive work roles in data from  nearly 7,000 job seekers across 16 large American cities.
This gender wage gap “more than doubled” as performance-linked compensation increased.
Women in these studies were significantly more likely to walk away from a competitive workplace when they had alternate employment options.

Jeffrey Flory

Jeffrey Flory

Women were more likely to apply to jobs if the performance relied on teamwork rather than individual accomplishment, or if the salary was a flat fee independent of their performance.

Men were also more likely to negotiate when there was no explicit statement that wages are negotiable.
They did not wait for an invitation or permission to negotiate.
In these studies, women negotiated as frequently as men when they were invited to ask for higher salaries and job titles.

Negotiation practices considered “acceptable” for men are often viewed as “aggressive” when women use them, according to Babcock.
To counteract this reaction, she and Laschever advised women to:

  • Consider that “everything is negotiable,”
  • Research personal “market worth” using online resources like Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Glassdoor.com,
  • Consider oneself a viable candidate for higher salaries and job roles,
  • Examine self-limiting beliefs about negotiation,
  • Plan negotiation talking points, including accomplishments, results, impact,
  • Practice negotiating the salary proposal, suggest timing, set an ambitious anchor point, prepare for objections,
  • Plan counter-offers and practice self-regulation (such as through intentional breathing) to maintain negotiation position and interpersonal rapport.

Collaborative negotiation enables both people to derive value from the negotiation conversation through preparation, proactivity, and persistence while reaffirming the negotiation goal’s value for all parties.

Negotiation principles were summarised in the classic Getting to Yes: Negotiating without Giving In by Harvard’s Roger Fisher and William Ury.
Research-based guidance on effective Negotiation by Ohio State’s Roy Lewicki, David Saunders of Queen’s University, and Vanderbilt’s Bruce Barry of Vanderbilt.

Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson

More than 90% of all negotiators neglect to ask “diagnostic questions” that reveal the negotiation partner’s most important needs, priorities, preferences, and even fears, found Leigh Thompson of Northwestern.
When negotiators elicited these “wants,” they achieved significantly improved negotiation outcomes.

Knowing Your ValueTelevision journalist Mika Brzezinski echoed Babcock and Laschever’s recommendations based on interviews with prominent women and men discussing the persistent gender wage gap.
She suggested a structure to guide negotiation:

  • Research,
  • Leverage,
  • Negotiate,
  • Re-negotiate.Hardball for Women
Pat Heim

Pat Heim

Women’s reluctance to negotiate may be related to gender differences in attributions of success and failure, suggested Pat Heim.
Women often attribute failures to themselves (“internalizing”) whereas men identify external factors (“rationalisations”) associated with their shortcomings.
Women are more likely to attribute success to external factors (“deflection of merit”), whereas men typically attribute their effective performance to to themselves (“self-bolstering”).

Men are often promoted because they are seen to have “potential,” but women are  more likely to be promoted based on their results and accomplishments, noted Heim.
Even factors like attire can influence perception of authority:  Men judged women as less authoritative when wearing “business casual” attire.

These studies encourage women to develop skills and behaviours required to close the wage gap between professional women and men.

-How do you prepare for negotiations and overcome objections during negotiations?

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©Kathryn Welds

Costs of Workplace Incivility

Christine Pearson

A single incident of incivility in the workplace can result in significant operational costs, reported Christine Pearson of Thunderbird School of Global Management and Christine Porath of Georgetown University.
They cited consequences of workplace incivility:

  • Decreased work effort due to disengagement,

    Christine Porath

    Christine Porath

  • Less time at work to reduce contact with  offensive co-workers or managers,
  • Decreased work productivity due to ruminating about incivility incidents,
  • Less commitment to the organization,
  • Attrition.

Pier Massimo Forni

P.M. Forni

Additional organizational symptoms include:

  • Increased customer complaints,
  • Accentuated cultural and communications barriers,
  • Reduced confidence in leadership,
  • Less adoption of changed organizational processes,
  • Reduced willingness to accept additional responsibility and make discretionary work efforts.

Workplace incivility behaviors were described as “rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others,” noted Pearson and Lynne Andersson, then of St. Joseph’s University.
“Uncivil” behaviors were enumerated in The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study by Johns Hopkins’ P.M. Forni and Daniel L. Buccino with David Stevens and Treva Stack of University of Baltimore:

  • Refusing to collaborate on a team project,
  • Shifting blame for an error to a co-worker,
      • Reading another’s mail,
      • Neglecting to say “please,” “thank you”,
      • Taking a co-worker’s food from the office refrigerator without asking.

Respondents classified more extreme unacceptable behaviors as “violent”:

  • Pushing a co-worker during an argument,
  • Yelling at a co-worker,
  • Firing a subordinate during a disagreement,
  • Criticizing a subordinate in public,
  • Using foul language in the workplace.

Gary Namie

Workplace bullying was included in Gary Namie’s Campaign Against Workplace Bullying.
He defined bullying as “the deliberate repeated, hurtful verbal mistreatment of a person (target) by a cruel perpetrator (bully).

His survey of more than 1300 respondents found that:

  • More than one-third of respondents observed bullying in the previous two years,
  • More than 80% of perpetrators were workplace supervisors,
  • Women bullied as frequently as men,
  • Women were targets of bullying 75% of the time,
  • Few bullies were punished, transferred, or terminated from jobs.

Costs of health-related symptoms experienced by bullying targets included:

  • Depression,
  • Sleep loss, anxiety, inability to concentrate, which reduced work productivity,
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among 31% of women and 21% of men,
  • Frequent rumination about past bullying, leading to inattention, poor concentration, and reduced productivity.

Choosing CivilityWidespread prevalence of workplace incivility was also reported by Forni, who suggested ways to improve workplace interactions and inclusion:

  • Assume that others have positive intentions,
  • Pay attention, listen,
  • Include all co-workers in workplace activities,
  • Avoid complaints,
  • Acknowledge others,
  • Give praise when warranted,
  • Respect others’ opinions, time, space, indirect refusals,
  • Avoid asking personal questions,
  • Be selective in asking for favors,
  • Sincerely apologize when warranted,
  • Provide constructive suggestions for improvement,
  • Maintain personal grooming, health, and work environment,
  • Accept responsibility and blame, if deserved.

More than 95% of respondents in The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study suggested, “Keep stress and fatigue at manageable levels,” a challenging goal for leaders who shape workplace cultures.

Organizationalhange recommendations include:

  • Instituting a grievance process to investigate and address complaints of incivility,
  • Selecting prospective employees with effective interpersonal skills,
  • Offering a clearly-written policy on interpersonal conduct,
  • Adopting flexibility in scheduling, assignments, and work-life issues.

-*How do you handle workplace incivility when you observe or experience it?

©Kathryn Welds

Executive Presence: “Gravitas”, Communication…and Appearance?

Executive Presence is considered essential to effectively perform in leadership roles.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Professional advancement to executive roles requires demonstrated knowledge, skill, and competence, coupled with less quantifiable “authenticity,” “cultural fit,” and “executive presence.”

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of Center for Talent Innovation, conducted 18 focus groups and 60 interviews to systematically investigate behavioral and attitudinal aspects of Executive Presence (EP).

Executive Presence accounts for more than a quarter of factors that determine a next promotion, according to participants, and includes three components:Executive Presence

Gravitas” – Authoritative Behavior

    • Confidence, composure,
    • Decisiveness,
    • Integrity,
    • Emotional Intelligence: Self-awareness, self-regulation, interpersonal skills,
    • Personal “brand” reputation,
    • Vision for leadership,

Communication

    • Speaking skills:  Voice tone, articulation, grammatical speech conveying competence,
    • Presence”, “bearing”,  “charisma” including assertiveness, humor, humility,
    • Ability to sense audience engagement, emotion, interests,

Appearance

    • Grooming, posture,
    • Physical attractiveness, normal weight,
    • Professional attire.

Harrison Monarth

Executive presence can be cultivated with Image Management, noted Harrison Monarth.

He advocated self-marketing tactics including:

-Maintaining a compelling personal “brand” to influence others’ perceptions and willingness to collaborate,

-Managing online reputation, and recovering when communications go awry,

-Effectively persuading those who disagree, and gaining followers,

-Demonstrating “Emotional Intelligence” skills of self-awareness, awareness of others (empathic insight).

He focused less on appearance as a contributor to career advancement than Hewlett and Stanford Law School’s Deborah Rhode, who summarized extensive research on Halo Effect.
Rhode and Hewlett acknowledged the impact of appearance and non-verbal behavior on various life opportunities including career advancement.

Deborah Rhode

Rhode estimated that annual world-wide investment in appearance is close to $200 billion in 2010 USD currency, and she contended that bias based on appearance:

  • Is prevalent,
  • Infringes on individuals’ fundamental rights,
  • Compromises merit principles,
  • Reinforces negative stereotypes,
  • Compounds disadvantages facing members of non-dominant races, classes, and gender.

Executive Presence is widely recognized as a prerequisite for leadership roles, yet its components remained loosely-defined until Hewlett’s systematic investigation, Monarth’s consulting-based approach, and Rhode’s legal analysis.

-*Which elements seem most essential to Executive Presence?

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©Kathryn Welds

Women Who Express Anger Seen as Less Influential

Jessica Salerno

Jessica Salerno

Women who expressed anger were less likely to influence their peers in computer-mediated mock jury proceedings, found Arizona State University’s Jessica Salerno and Liana Peter-Hagene of University of Illinois. 

Liana Peter-Hagene

Liana Peter-Hagene

More than 200 U.S. jury-eligible volunteers reviewed opening arguments and closing statements, eyewitness testimonies, crime scene photographs, and an image of the alleged weapon in a homicide.

Participants made individual verdict choices, then exchanged instant messages by computer, with “peers” who were said to be “deliberating their verdict decisions.”

In fact, “peer” messages were scripted, with four of the fictional jurors agreeing with the participant’s verdict, and one disagreeing.
The dissenting participant had a male user name or a female user name or a gender-neutral name.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Half of the dissenting messages contained no emotion, anger, or fear, and these communications had no influence on participants’ opinions.

However, participants’ confidence in their verdict decision significantly dropped when a single “male dissenter” sent angry messages, characterized by “shouting” in all capital letters.
Confidence in the verdict decision dropped even when the vote was shared by the majority of other “jurors.”
This finding suggests the persuasive impact of a single male dissenter’s angry communication.

In contrast, volunteers became more confident in their initial verdict decisions when their vote was echoed by the majority of other participants.

This confidence was was maintained when a single female dissenter responded with angry emotional message, suggesting that “female” anger was less influential than “male” anger.

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Male and female evaluators conferred lower status on angry female professionals compared with angry male professionals in research by Yale University’s Victoria Brescoll and Eric Luis Uhlmann, now of INSEAD.
Evaluators assigned lower status to female CEOs and to female trainees when they expressed anger.

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Men who expressed anger in a professional context were conferred higher status than men who expressed sadness.
Likewise, women who expressed anger and sadness were rated less effective than women who shared no emotion, according to Kristi Lewis Tyran of Western Washington University.

Evaluators judged men’s angry reactions more generously, attributing these emotional expressions to external circumstances, such as experiencing pressure and demands from others.

These differing judgments of emotional expression suggest that women’s anger is more harshly evaluated because anger expressions deviate from women’s expected societal, gender, and cultural norms.

-*What impacts and consequences have you observed for women and men who express anger at work?

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©Kathryn Welds

Loneliness as Health Risk; Reframing Can Help

Julianne Holt-Lundstad

Julianne Holt-Lundstad

Loneliness increases mortality risk by 26 percent, comparable to health risks of obesity, cigarette smoking, and excessive alcohol use, according to Brigham Young University’s Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, Mark Baker, Tyler Harris, and David Stephenson.
Besides triggering emotional discomfort, loneliness harms people’s health.

Timothy Smith

Timothy Smith

Loneliness and social isolation differ.
Some people report feeling lonely in the presence of others, whereas socially isolated people may not report loneliness.
However, both loneliness and social isolation increased risk for mortality in a meta-analysis of more than 3 million participants in studies of loneliness, social isolation, and living alone.

Megan Knowles

Megan Knowles

Lonely individuals benefited more from learning to cope with social performance anxiety than from developing social skills, found Franklin & Marshall College’s Megan L. Knowles, Gale M. Lucas of University of Southern CaliforniaFlorida State University’s Roy Baumeister, and Wendi L. Gardner of Northwestern.

Gale M. Lucas

Gale M. Lucas

More than 85 volunteers completed a loneliness self-report, then identified emotions expressed on computer-presented faces.
Self-described lonely people out-performed non-lonely people when social sensitivity tasks were described as measures of “academic aptitude.”

Roy Baumeister

However, lonely participants performed worse when tasks were presented as tests of “social aptitude.”
These volunteers also reported difficulty forming and maintaining friendships, suggesting that social anxiety leads to “choking” in social “performance” situations.
The result is continued loneliness.

Wendi Gardner

Wendi Gardner

Lonely people may be more socially competent than the non-lonely: They were more skilled at remembering social information in studies by Northwestern’s Wendi L. Gardner, Cynthia L. Pickett of University of California Davis, and Ohio State University’s Marilynn B. Brewer.
The team assessed social recall by presenting volunteers with a simulated computer chat task that provided brief acceptance or rejection experiences, then a diary containing both social and individual events.

Cynthia L. Pickett

Cynthia L. Pickett

When social anxiety could be reattributed to an external cause , task  performance increased.
Volunteers consumed a non-caffeinated energy beverage and learned that any jitters they might experience could be attributed to the “caffeine” they’d just consumed.
This explanation provided a plausible but false rationale for anxious feelings.

Alison Wood Brooks

Alison Wood Brooks

Similarly, Harvard’s Alison Wood Brooks found that reframing nervousness as “excitement” helped people perform better on stressful tasks.

An additional coping approach for lonely people is modifying personal mindsets following social loss cues.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck

Fixed mindset, identified by Stanford’s Carol Dweck, is a belief that personal capabilities are limited to present capacities.
This perspective is similar to
security-oriented, prevention-focused behaviors of lonely people observed by University of Southern California’s Lucas with Knowles, Gardner, Daniel C. Molden and Valerie E. Jefferis of Northwestern.
This mindset can lead to fear, anxiety, protectiveness and guardedness.

Daniel Molden

Daniel Molden

In contrast, growth mindset is similar to promotion-focused responses like attempts at social engagement.
This developmental mindset holds that personal capabilities can expand based on commitment, effort, practice, instruction, and correcting mistakes.
This view enables teamwork, collaboration, and social interaction.

Marilynn Brewer

Marilynn Brewer

To demonstrate these effects, Lucas’s group gave volunteers cues of acceptance or rejection.
People who received positive primes were more likely to develop a promotion-focused growth mindset.
These participants also reported more effective social thoughts, intentions, and behaviors.

People who experience social anxiety and loneliness can reduce social avoidance by reframing discomfort as “excitement” and by embracing learning and new experiences in a growth mindset.

-*How do you manage loneliness?

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©Kathryn Welds

Workplace Incivility is Contagious, Damaging

James Bartlett

James Bartlett

Workplace incivility has negative consequences including reduced employee engagement and productivity, according to North Carolina State University’s James E. Bartlett and Michelle E. Bartlett with Florida Atlantic University’s Thomas G. Reio.

Trevor Foulk

Trevor Foulk

Rudeness in the workplace is contagious and leads people to be vigilant for subsequent slights, reported University of Florida’s Trevor Foulk, Andrew Woolum, and Amir Erez.
They suggested that low-level workplace hostility enables similar behavior throughout the organization, leading to eroded culture and productivity.

Andrew Woolum

Andrew Woolum

Ninety volunteers practiced negotiation with partners, and those who rated their initial negotiation partner as rude were more likely to be rated as rude by a subsequent partner.

Participants seemed to assimilate and convey the first partner’s rudeness.
The effect persisted during the week between the first and second negotiations.

Amir Erez

Amir Erez

Foulk’s team presented staged interactions between an apologetic late-arriving participant and the study leader, who responded neutrally or rudely.
Then, volunteers completed a timed task to distinguish real words from nonsense words.

Participants who observed the leader’s rude response more quickly identified rude words in a task than participants who had observed the neutral interaction.
Observing rude interactions can “prime” people’s awareness and sensitivity to future uncivil interactions.

Walter Mischel

Walter Mischel

People who witnessed rudeness were more likely to be rude to others, confirming the impact of observing aggression on future behavior, earlier demonstrated in often-cited “Bobo” experiments by Stanford’s Walter Mischel, Dorothea Ross and Sheila Ross.

Mischel's experiment with Bobo doll

Mischel’s experiment with Bobo doll

Foulk’s group also observed this priming effect when volunteers watched a video of a rude workplace interaction, then answered a fictitious customer neutral-toned email.
Participants’ responses were more likely to be hostile than those who viewed a polite interaction before responding.

Rudeness will flavor the way you interpret ambiguous cues,” noted Foulk, who contended that harsh interactions can reduce collaboration and trust in the workplace.

-*How do you stop the spread of workplace incivility?

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©Kathryn Welds

Range Offers vs Point Offers for Advantageous Negotiation Settlements

Daniel Ames

Daniel Ames

Many people avoid making negotiation offers as a range of values, because they are concerned that co-negotiators will “anchor” on the range’s lower value. 

The power of first offers as negotiation anchors was demonstrated in research by University of Chicago’s Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell.

Malia F Mason

Malia F Mason

However, range offers actually led to stronger outcomes in controlled studies by Columbia University’s Daniel R. Ames and Malia F. Mason.
This team suggested that range offers provide “dual anchors” that signal a negotiator’s knowledge of value and politeness.

Nicholas Epley

Nicholas Eple

Negotiators’ credibility, interpersonal style, and value awareness are also associated with the anchor value’s influence settlement outcomes.

Thomas Gilovich

Thomas Gilovich

Range and point opening offers have varying impacts, depending on the proposer’s perceived preparation, credibility, politeness, and reasonableness.

Ames and Mason tested three types of negotiation proposal ranges:

  • Bolstering range includes the target point value as the bottom of the range and an aspirational value as the top of the range.
    This strategy usually yields generous counteroffers and higher settlement prices, and is recommended based on their research.

  • Backdown range features the target point value as the upper end of the range and a concession value as the lower offer.
    This approach often leads to accepting the lower value and is not recommended.

  • Bracketing range spans the target point offer and often has neutral settlement outcomes for the offer-maker.
    This tactic provides some relational benefits because they were seen as less aggressive.

Martin Schweinsberg

Martin Schweinsberg

Extreme anchors can be seen as aggressive and may lead to negotiation breakdown, according to INSEAD’s Martin Schweinsberg with Gillian Ku of London Business School, collaborating with Cynthia S. Wang of University of Michigan, and National University of Singapore’s Madan M. Pillutla.
Even negotiators with little power in their studies were more likely to walk away from extreme anchors.
Likewise, high-power negotiators said they were offended by extreme anchors.

Gilliam Ku

Gilliam Ku

Previously, Mason and team showed the benefit of precise single number offers, and these findings suggest the value of range offers.

The research group concluded that point offers and range offers are independent and interactive processes that influence settlement values:

“…bolstering-range offers shape the perceived location of the offer-maker’s reservation price, (and) precise first offers shape the perceived credibility of the offer-maker’s price proposal.

  • When do you prefer to present a precise negotiation offers instead of a negotiation range?

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Group “Intelligence”=Social Skills+Number of Women Members

Anita Wooley Williams

Anita Wooley Williams

A group’s “general collective intelligence factor” is related to social and communication skills, not to the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, found Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris of Union College, with MIT colleagues Alex (“Sandy”) Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone.

Group intelligence was most closely associated with:

Christopher Chabris

Christopher Chabris

Nearly 700 volunteers completed an individual I.Q. test, then collaborated in teams to complete workplace tasks including:

  • Logical analysis,
  • Coordination,
  • Planning,
  • Brainstorming,
  • Moral-ethical reasoning.
Simon Baron-Cohen

Simon Baron-Cohen

Each participant also completed a measure of empathy  and social reasoning based on identifying emotional states portrayed in images of people’s eyes.

This instrument, Reading the Mind in the Eyes , was developed by University of Cambridge’s Simon Baron-Cohen, Sally Wheelright, Jacqueline Hill, Yogini Raste, and Ian Plumb.

Reading the Mind in the Eyes

Sally Wheelright

The ability to infer other team members’ emotional states correlated with team effectiveness in solving workplace tasks, but not with extraversion and reported motivation.

Teams that performed best in online and face-to-face situations, also demonstrated stronger social and communication skills:

  • Accurate emotion-reading, empathy, and interpersonal sensitivity,
  • Communication volume,
  • Equal participation.

David Engel

High-performing teams accurately inferred others’ feelings even when emotional state was conveyed without visual, auditory, or non-verbal cues, reported Wooley’s team collaborating with MIT’s David Engel and Lisa X. Jing.

CONCLUSION: Teams increase task performance when members have well-developed “Emotional Intelligence,” social insight, and communication skills and when the proportion of women is high. These factors are more correlated with effective performance than when members have the highest average IQ. 

  • How do you enhance a work group’s collective intelligence in performance tasks?

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©Kathryn Welds

Nothing to Lose: Effective Negotiating Even When “Powerless”

Michael Schaerer

Most negotiators prefer to have a “fall back position.”
However, having no alternatives and less power than co-negotiators can improve outcomes, found INSEAD’s Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab with Adam Galinsky of Columbia.

When an alternative is weak, it can undermine negotiating outcomes.
An alternative can establish ananchor point, a frequent cognitive bias characterized by overvaluing one piece of information, according to Hebrew University’s late Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

People with weak alternatives often make lower first offers than negotiators with no alternative.
“Lowball” first offers usually undermine a negotiator’s final outcome.

Professional athletes and their agents provide examples of negotiating better deals when they have no “back up” offers and “nothing to lose.”  They can set ambitious anchor points, and may arrive at a more favourable settlement.

Amos Tversky

Amos Tversky

Schaerer and team asked a hundred people whether they would prefer to negotiate a job offer with a weak alternative or without any alternative.
More than 90 percent of participants preferred an unattractive alternative offer, confirming the assumption that any alternative is  better than no alternative.

Schaerer asked volunteers to imagine trying to sell previously-owned music in one of three conditions when they had:

  • No offers (no alternative),
  • One offer at USD $2 (weak alternative),
  • A bid at USD $8 (strong alternative).

Roderick Swaab

Roderick Swaab

Volunteers in each group proposed a first offer, and rated the degree of power they felt.
People with the “strong” alternative felt the most powerful and those with no alternative felt the least powerful.

Volunteers with a weak alternative felt more powerful than those with no alternative, but they made lower first offers.
This signaled that they had less confidence than participants with no alternative.
Conclusion: Having any alternative can help people feel powerful but can undermine negotiation performance.

Schaerer’s team investigated by pairing a  “seller,” who offered to sell a coffee mug to a potential “buyer.”

Before meeting, the seller received a phone call from “another buyer,” who was a confederate of the researchers.
The potential buyer either made a low offer for half of the sellers or declined to bid for the remaining sellers.

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

Sellers without an alternative offer said they felt less powerful, but made higher first offers and received significantly higher sales prices than negotiators with an unattractive alternative.

In another situation, half of the “sellers” concentrated on available alternatives (none, weak, or strong) and the remaining negotiators focused on the target price.

Volunteers with unappealing alternatives negotiated worse deals than those with no options when they focused on alternatives.
“Sellers” avoided this pitfall by concentrating on the target price.
Conclusion:  Focus on the goal when alternatives are weak.

Negotiators with non-existent or unappealing alternatives can set audacious goals and make an ambitious opening offer because they have the benefit of “nothing to lose.”
This strategy usually renders better results for the disadvantaged negotiator.

  • How do you overcome lowball anchoring when you have few negotiation alternatives?

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©Kathryn Welds