Tag Archives: negotiation

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

Daniel R Ames

Daniel R Ames

Ability to optimally match one’s style of assertiveness to specific situations can determine success as a leader and negotiator, 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.
In addition, they 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.

A frequently-employed negotiation tactic is overly-emotional verbalizations during negotiations.
More than 80% of participants reported that they had expressed greater objections than they actually felt to influence the negotiation partner, and a different 80% of volunteers said they observed exaggerated objections by their negotiation partners.

Daniel Ames AssertivenessParticipants in Ames and Watzlawek’s studies reported whether they or their counterpart used these excessive emotional displays in negotiation role-plays.
In addition, they rated their own and their negotiation partner’s assertiveness styles.

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 strategic umbrage 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:  Just 40% of negotiators who were rated as appropriately but felt they were over-assertive (line-crossing illusion) negotiated the best possible deal 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 the positions discussed in negotiation are “reasonable” in the situation in light of comparable alternatives and options,
  • Request feedback on “strategic umbrage” reactions, to better understand additional factors that modify perceptions of “offer reasonableness,
  • Evaluate costs and benefits of specific assertiveness styles:
    Gary Yukl

    Gary Yukl

    Over-assertiveness may provide the benefit of “claiming value” in a negotiation or 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, 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 benefit by minimizing 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, and 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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Do You Have Agreement Bias? Accept Bad Deals?

Taya Cohen

Taya Cohen

Agreement bias is the tendency to acquiesce in negotiation, even if that decision results in a disadvantageous outcome in business and interpersonal relationships.

During negotiation, participants may enter a “negative bargaining zone,” when their positions and interests diverge so much that there is little possibility of crafting a win-win resolution.
Skillful negotiators usually end the discussion if it is unlikely to move beyond the “negative bargaining zone.”

Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson

However, negotiators may be vulnerable to accepting a disadvantageous deal for several reasons, explained Carnegie Mellon’s Taya Cohen and Leigh Thompson of Northwestern with University of Toronto’s Geoffrey J. Leonardelli.

◦       Sunk Costs: Individuals may wish to achieve a resolution, even a bad one, to feel value was gained from the time and effort invested in the negotiation,

◦       Image: Participants may wish to be seen as likeable,

◦       Erroneous Anchoring: Individuals may assume that their interests and the negotiation partner’s are mutually exclusive, and may overlook innovative, “integrative” solutions,

◦       Strength in Numbers: Negotiators who are outnumbered by the opposite negotiation team are likely to acquiesce to suboptimal deals.

Geoffrey J Leonardelli

Geoffrey J Leonardelli

Negotiating teams tend to be less susceptible to agreement bias when discussions enter a negative bargaining zone, found Cohen, Thompson, and Leonardelli.

Solo negotiators demonstrated more agreeable behavior, and were more likely to agree to unfavorable conditions.
However, when solo negotiators were joined by only one person, they avoided agreement because they accessed additional decision support.

Douglas Jackson

Douglas Jackson

Agreement bias occurs in lower-stakes situations than person-to-person negotiation – anonymous surveys, reported Douglas Jackson, then of Educational Testing Services and Penn State.
This “yea-saying” propensity, called acquiescence bias, is triggered when people agree to survey items, no matter the content.

Samuel Messick

Samuel Messick

A major contributor to acquiescence bias was social desirability concern, confirmed in research by Jackson and his  ETS colleague Samuel Messick in a factor analysis of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) items.

Robin Pinkley

Robin Pinkley

In addition, faulty judgments can lead to poor negotiation outcomes like agreement, noted SMU’s Robin L. Pinkley, Terri L. Griffith of Santa Clara University, and University of Illinois’s Gregory B. Northcraft.

Terri Griffith

Terri Griffith

Pinkley’s group demonstrated ineffective outcomes when negotiators:

  • Accurately processed faulty and incomplete information (information availability errors),
  • Inaccurately process valid or complete information (information processing errors).
Gregory Northcraft

Gregory Northcraft

-*How do you guard against agreeing to bad deals?

-*How do reduce the possibility of Information availability errors and information processing errors?

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How Effective are Strategic Threats, Anger, and Unpredictability in Negotiations?

Most researchers conclude that negotiators who establish a collaborative atmosphere for a “win-win” solution achieve superior results.

Marwan Sinaceur

Marwan Sinaceur

However, Marwan Sinaceur of  INSEAD and Stanford’s Larissa Tiedens investigated the potentially-risky tactic of employing strategic anger in negotiations, and found that anger expressions increase expressers’ advantage and “ability to claim value” when negotiation partners think they have few or poor alternatives.

Larissa Tiedens

Larissa Tiedens

Sinaceur and Tiedens suggested that anger expression communicates toughness, leading most non-angry counterparts to concede more to an angry negotiator.
However, other studies report that people have more negative reactions when women display anger,

-*But what about the impact of “strategic” expressions of anger that aren’t actually felt?

Stephane Cote

Stephane Cote

Ivona Hideg

Ivona Hideg

University of Toronto’s Stéphane Côté collaborated with Ivona Hideg of Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Amsterdam’s Gerben van Kleef to evaluate the impact of surface acting (showing anger that is not truly felt) on the behavior of negotiation counterparts.

They found that disingenuous anger expressions can backfire, leading to intractable, escalating demands, attributed to reduced trust.

Gerben van Kleef

Gerben van Kleef

In contrast, “deep acting” anger that is actually felt, decreased negotiation demands, as demonstrated in Sinaceur and Tiedens’ work.

-*Are threats more effective than expressing anger in eliciting concessions in negotiation?

Christophe Haag

Christophe Haag

Sinaceur and team collaborated with Margaret Neale of Stanford and Emlyon Business School’s Christophe Haag, and reported that threats delivered with “poise,” confidence and self-control trump anger to achieve great concessions.
A potential negotiation “work-around” is expressing inconsistent emotions in negotiations.

Adam Hajo

Adam Hajo

Saraceur teamed with van Kleef with Rice University’s Adam Hajo, and Adam Galinsky of Columbia, and found that negotiators who shifted among angry, happy, and disappointed expressions made recipients feel less control over the outcome, and extracted more concessions from their counterparts.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

Emotional inconsistency proved more powerful than expressed anger in  extracting concessions, so women may achieve superior negotiation outcomes with varied, unpredictable emotional expression.

-*How do you use and manage emotional expression in negotiations?

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Men Negotiate More Assertively with Women Managers

Ekaterina Netchaeva

Ekaterina Netchaeva

Men volunteers negotiated more assertively with women in supervisory roles in laboratory tasks, compared with strategies they used with male supervisors, reported Bocconi University’s Ekaterina Netchaeva, Maryam Kouchaki of Northwestern University, and Washington State University’s Leah D. Sheppard.

Maryam Kouchaki

Maryam Kouchaki

This cross-gender negotiation trend was reduced when woman in supervisory roles demonstrated directness and proactivity (“administrative agency”) rather than self-promotion and power-seeking (“ambitious agency”).

The team told 52 male and 24 female volunteers that they would negotiate their salary at a new job in a computer exercise with a male or female hiring manager.

Leah D. Sheppard

Leah D. Sheppard

After the negotiation, participants completed an implicit threat test by identifying words that appeared on a computer screen for a fraction of a second in a variation of the Implicit Association Test developed by Harvard’s Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald of University of Washington.
Participants who chose more threat-related words like “fear” or “risk,” were inferred to feel more threatened.

Mahzarin Banaji

Mahzarin Banaji

Male participants who negotiated with a female manager selected more threat-related words on implicit association test, and they negotiated for a higher salary ($49,400 average), compared to men negotiating with a male manager ($42,870 average).

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

The manager’s gender didn’t affect female participants, who negotiated a lower salary ($41,346 average), reflecting a common trend where women tend not to negotiate, or to negotiate less vigorously, as noted by Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles of Harvard.

Anthony Greenwald

Anthony Greenwald

In another experimental task, more than 65 male volunteers decided how to share a $10,000 bonus with a male or female team member or with supervisor.
Male participants tended to equally divided the money with male or female team members, but reacted significantly differently with a female supervisor.

Men who endorsed more threat-related words chose to keep more money for themselves when the supervisor was female, compared with when they were paired with a male supervisor.

Hannah Riley Bowles

Hannah Riley Bowles

A related online survey of 226 male and 144 female volunteers found that male participants decided to keep a larger share of the $10,000 bonus when the female manager was described as ambitious or power-seeking, but responded significantly more favorably when the female supervisor was described as proactive or ambitious.
In the latter case, male volunteers offered approximately the same bonus amount to female managers.

This suggests that women managers with male direct-reports enhance these relationships by adopting a consciously direct leadership style, characterized by consistent communication, and proactive problem-solving.

Netchaeva’s group posits that women who adopt a direct, active leadership style reduce threat in cross-gender reporting relationships, and enable greater cooperation in bargaining and negotiation situations.

-*To what extend have you observed evidence of implicit threat responses in cross-gender workplace reporting relationships?

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Power, Confidence Enhance Performance Under Pressure    

Sonia K. Kang

Sonia K. Kang

Role-based power can affect performance in pressure-filled situations, but has less impact on lower pressure environments, according to University of Toronto’s Sonia K. Kang, Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia University, University of California, Berkeley’s Laura J. Kray and Aiwa Shirako of Google.

Kang’s team assigned more than 130 volunteers to same-gender pairs in three negotiations experiments.
Half the participants acted as a “recruiter” (high-power role) or as a “job candidate” (low-power role) in negotiating salary, vacation time, and related benefits.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

Volunteers were told that performance either reflected negotiation ability or was unrelated to ability.
Participants in high power roles tended to perform better under pressure when they were told their negotiation performance was an accurate reflection of ability.
Kang attributed this result to participants’ higher expectations for success based on the higher power role.

Job candidates who thought their negotiation performance indicated their skill level performed significantly worse than those who thought that the exercise was a learning experience unrelated to their negotiating capabilities.

Claude Steele

Claude Steele

Results were similar to Claude Steele of Stanford’s findings for stereotype threat and stereotype uplift, in which individuals from marginalized groups perform less effectively than members of higher-power groups, linked to negative self-attributions and expectations.
Low-power negotiators counteracted underperformance when they self-affirmed their performance.

Laura Kray

Laura Kray

Kang and team concluded that “relative power can act as either a toxic brew (stereotype/low-power threat) or a beneficial elixir (stereotype/high-power lift) for performance… (because) performance in high pressure situations is closely related to expectations of behavior and outcome… Self-affirmation is a way to neutralize … threat.

Aiwa Shirako

Aiwa Shirako

In another experiment, 60 male MBA students were paired as the “buyer” or “seller” of a biotechnology plant.
The sellers held a more powerful role in this situation, and were more assertive, reflected by negotiating a higher selling price, when they thought performance reflected ability.
In contrast, buyers performed worse when they thought negotiating performance reflected ability.

Kang’s team extended this scenario with 88 MBA students (33 male pairs and 11 female pairs), who were told the exercise would gauge their negotiating skills.
Before the negotiation, half of the participants wrote for five minutes about their most important negotiating skill, while the remaining half wrote about their least important negotiating skill.

Francesca Gino

Francesca Gino

Buyers who completed the positive self-affirmation performed significantly better in negotiating a lower sale price for the biotechnology plant, effectively reducing the power differences between the buyer and seller.

Based on these findings, Kang, like Harvard’s Francesca Gino, advocates writing self-affirmations rather than simply reflecting on positive self-statements about job skills and positive traits to enhance confidence and performance.

-*How do you mitigate differences in role-based power and confidence when performing under pressure?

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Range Offers vs Point Offers in Negotiation for Advantageous Settlements

Daniel Ames

Daniel Ames

Many people hesitate to present a negotiation offer as a range due to concerns that only the lower value in the range would be heard due to selective attention by the co-negotiator.
In addition, many negotiators are concerned that the lower end of a range offer signals the “reservation price” or “bottom line.”

Malia F Mason

Malia F Mason

In fact, range offers may lead to stronger outcomes, according to Columbia University’s Daniel R. Ames and Malia F. Mason, who compared range offers with point offers in laboratory studies of negotiations.

First offers can be powerful anchors, despite their risk of bias and marginal accuracy, reported University of Chicago’s Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell.

Nicholas Epley

Nicholas Epley

Even more influential aredual anchors,” which signal both a negotiator’s knowledge of value as well as politeness.
Ames and Mason suggested that
negotiator credibility and knowledge of value increases anchor potency coupled with interpersonal relationship “capital” determine settlement outcomes.

Thomas Gilovich

Thomas Gilovich

These findings suggest that range and point opening offers can have varying impacts, depending on perceived preparation, credibility, politeness, and reasonableness of the proposer.

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, usually yields generous counteroffers and higher settlement prices.
  • 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 generally not recommended.
  • Bracketing range spans the target point offer and tends to have neutral settlement outcomes for the offer-maker.
    Compared with point offer-makers, bracketing range offers provided some relational benefits because they were seen as less aggressive and stubborn.
Martin Schweinsberg

Martin Schweinsberg

Extreme anchors can be seen as aggressive and offensive, 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.
Somewhat surprisingly, the found that negotiators with little power were more likely to walk away from extreme anchors, though high-power negotiators were equally offended.

Gilliam Ku

Gilliam Ku

Previously, Mason and team showed the benefit of precise single number offers, and the current research shows the value of less precise range offers.

Mason and team argue that point offers and range offers are independent and interactive informational processes with influence on 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, non-rounded negotiation offers instead of a negotiation range?

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Nothing to Lose: Effective Negotiating Even When “Powerless”

Michael Schaerer

Michael Schaerer

Most negotiators prefer to have alternatives as a “fall back position,” but INSEAD’s Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab, collaborating with Adam Galinsky of Columbia suggested that having no alternatives and less power than co-negotiators can achieve better deals.

Alternatives enable negotiators to gain concessions from co-negotiators as they capitalize on an advantageous BATNA – Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, defined by Harvard’s Roger Fisher and William Ury.

Roger Fisher

Roger Fisher

When an alternative is weak, it can undermine negotiating outcomes more than no alternative by setting an “anchor point” based on assessment of competing options.

Anchoring is a frequently-observed cognitive bias first theorized by Hebrew University’s Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton, to describe overvaluing one piece of information – usually quantitative – as a guide in making judgments or decisions.

William Ury

William Ury

Typically, negotiators anchor on the value of their alternatives when making their first offer, so people with weak alternatives generally make lower first offers than those with no alternative.
“Lowball” first offers based on few or poor alternatives usually undermine a negotiator’s final outcome.

Professional athletes and their agents provide many anecdotal examples of negotiating better deals when they have no “back up” offers because they can set ambitious anchor points since they have “nothing to lose.”

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 indicated that they would prefer to enter the negotiation with an unattractive alternative offer, confirming the popular assumption that any alternative is seen as better than no alternative.

To evaluate the accuracy of this belief, Schaerer and colleagues asked volunteers to imagine they were selling a used music CD by The Rolling Stones.
They randomly assigned participants to three groups and gave each group different information about their alternatives, ranging from:

  • 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.
Not surprisingly, people with the strong alternative felt the most powerful and those with no alternative felt the least powerful.

However, people with a weak alternative felt more powerful than those with no alternative, but they made lower first offers, signaling less confidence than participants with no alternative.
Having alternatives, whether poor or attractive, may make people feel powerful –- but may undermine negotiation performance and final settlement prices.

Schaerer’s team further explored this paradox by pairing participants as a “buyer” and a “seller” who was seeking to market a Starbucks mug during a face-to-face meeting.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

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

“Sellers” without an alternative offer said they felt less powerful, but made higher first offers and negotiated a considerably higher sales price than negotiators with a an unattractive alternative.

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

Volunteers with unappealing alternatives negotiated worse deals than those without alternatives when they focused on alternatives, but “sellers” avoided this pitfall by concentrating on the target price.
This is another validation of focusing on the goal when alternatives are weak, and of the power of first-offer anchors –- for better or worse.

Negotiators with non-existent or unappealing alternatives are wise to be cautious about setting modest first offers driven by feeling powerless.
Instead, the situation can be reconstrued as an opportunity to set audacious goals, illustrated in ambitious opening offer.

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

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