Tag Archives: Edward T. Hall

Negotiation Drama: Strategic Umbrage, Line-Crossing Illusion, and Assertiveness Biases

Daniel R Ames

Daniel R Ames

Optimally matching assertiveness style to specific situations can determine success in negotiations, according to Columbia University’s Daniel Ames and Abbie Wazlawek.

Abbie Wazlawek

Abbie Wazlawek

Earlier, Ames and Stanford’s Frank Flynn reported that moderate levels of assertiveness are associated with career advancement, and with effective negotiation and influence in conflict situations.
They also found that most observers provided consistent ratings of managerial under-assertiveness and over-assertiveness.

Francis Flynn

Francis Flynn

However, most people do not accurately assess others’ evaluation of their assertiveness in specific situations.
Over-assertive individuals tend to have less-accurate self-perception than less assertive people, and both groups experience “self-awareness blindness.
These inaccurate self-perceptions may develop from polite yet inaccurate feedback from others, which provides faulty information.

More than 80% of participants reported that they had expressed greater objections than they actually felt to influence the negotiation partner, and said they observed exaggerated objections by their negotiation partners.

Daniel Ames Assertiveness

Self-awareness resulted in most favorable negotiation outcomes: More than 80% of negotiators rated by others and by themselves as “appropriately assertive in the situation” negotiated greatest value to both parties.

Ames Assertiveness U CurveStrategic umbrage also appeared effective:  People who received these intentional emotional displays by their negotiation partners were more likely to rate themselves as over-assertive in their negotiation position.
However, negotiators who applied strategic umbrage rated these self-critical negotiation partners as appropriately assertiveness.
Ames and Watzlawek called this misperception of others’ perceptions the line-crossing illusion.

This mismatch between negotiation partners’ ratings of appropriate assertiveness was linked with poorer negotiation outcomes:  Nearly 60% of negotiators who were rated as appropriately assertive but felt over-assertive (line-crossing illusion) negotiated the inferior deals for themselves and their counterparts.
This suggests that disingenuous emotional displays of strategic umbrage lead negotiation partners to seek the first acceptable deal, rather than pushing for an optimal deal.

Jeffrey Kern

Jeffrey Kern

To improve accuracy of meta-perception – other people’s perception of assertiveness style – Ames and Wazlawek suggested:

-Participate in 360 degree feedback,

-Increase skill in listening for content and meaning,

Consider whether negotiation proposals are reasonable in light of alternatives,

-Request feedback on reactions to “strategic umbrage” displays to better understand perceptions of “offer reasonableness,

-Evaluate costs and benefits of specific assertiveness styles:

Gary Yukl

Over-assertiveness may provide the benefit of “claiming value” in a negotiation but the cost may be ruptured interpersonal relationships and a legacy of ill-will, according to Jeffrey M. Kern of Texas A&M as well as SUNY’s Cecilia Falbe and Gary Yukl.

  • Consider cultural norms for assertiveness regulation in “low context” cultures like Israel, where dramatic displays are frequent and expected in negotiations.In contrast, “high context” cultures like Japan require more nuanced assertiveness, with fewer direct disagreements and “strategic umbrage” displays, according to Edward T. Hall, then of the U.S. Department of State.
Edward T Hall

Edward T Hall

Likewise, under-assertiveness may minimize interpersonal conflict, but may lead to poorer negotiation outcomes and undermined credibility in future interactions, according to Ames’ related research.

To augment a less assertiveness style:

  • Set slightly higher goals,
  • Reconsider assumptions that greater assertion leads to conflict,
  • Consider that proactivity may lead to increased respect and improved outcomes
  • Assess the outcome of collaborating with more assertive others.

To modulate a more assertiveness style:

  • Make slight concessions to increase rapport and trust with others,
  • Observe and evaluate the impact of collaborating with less assertive others.

The line-crossing illusion is an example of a self-perception bias in which personal ratings of behavior may not match other people’s perceptions, and others’ behaviors can attenuate individual confidence and assertiveness.

*How do you reduce the risk of developing the line-crossing illusion in response to other people’s displays of “strategic umbrage”?

*How do you match your degree of assertiveness to negotiation situations?

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Touch Can Increase Compliance, Persistence, Performance

Edward T. Hall

Edward T. Hall

Fifty years ago, Edward T. Hall, then of Illinois Institute of Technology, identified differences in interpersonal space ranging from intimate to personal to social to public, and inspired examination of acceptable interpersonal distance across cultures, genders, and organizations.

Circles of Interpersonal Space

Circles of Interpersonal Space

A decade later, Chris Kleinke, then of Wheaton College, expanded Hall’s work on “proxemics” as he explored the impact of close contact in public spaces, particularly non-intimate touching.

He found that in a relatively low-touch culture like the U.S., directing gaze and touch toward others increased their compliance with ambiguous requests in laboratory experiments.

Chris Kleinke

Chris Kleinke

Since then, this finding has been incorporated in sales, learning, healthcare, and other service settings based on evidence that touch increased performance when applied after a person initially agreed to a request, in research by Oakland University Jane C. Nannberg and Christine H. Hansen.

David Vaidis

David Vaidis

“Dosage” of touch had an additive effect when University of Paris’ David Vaidis and Severine Halimi-Falkowicz of University of Provence found that people who were touched two times persisted in lengthy tasks more than people who were touched once.

Likewise, University of Missouri’s Frank N. Willis and Helen K. Hamm found that touch contributed to compliance with challenging requests, especially in gaining agreement from people of the same gender as the requestor.

Séverine Halimi-Falkowicz

Séverine Halimi-Falkowicz

Another demonstration of influential touch was when female restaurant servers briefly touched customers on the hand or the shoulder while returning change from the bill payment.

These customers’ reactions were compared with other patrons who were not touched by the servers, in research by University of Mississippi‘s  April H. Crusco and Christopher G. Wetzel of Rhodes College.

Chris Wetzel

Chris Wetzel

They evaluated customers’ reactions to service, food, setting, and other elements of the dining experience with a restaurant survey as well as the gratuity amount, expressed as a percentage of the bill.

Customers who were touched on the hand or shoulder gave the server significantly larger gratuities than those who were not touched, and there was no significant difference between tips from customers who had been touched on the hand or the shoulder.

These findings confirm the influence of interpersonal touch in public commercial settings, and offer a reminder that non-intimate touching can increase cooperation and commitment to complete lengthy or challenging tasks.

-*How have you used interpersonal touch in public work situations to enable cooperation and performance?

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