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By Steven G. Mehta

How people view the negotiation can seriously affect the results that you achieve.  My wife and I have very different views about negotiation.  I thrive on it; she on the other hand views it as a necessary process.  I love the swap meet and the art of negotiating at garage sales, she prefers to not attend the garage sale at all and simply go to the mall.  That, however, might be her preference on shopping and not on negotiation.  A new study, however, verifies that the way people percieve negotiation will affect the outcome.

A recent paper evaluated a variety of studies on attitudes towards negotiations.  The studies revealed that when people know that they are about to negotiate, they view the impending negotiation as either a threat or a challenge. The study found that people who viewed the negotiation as a challenge fared better than the people who viewed it as a threat.  Threat percievers experienced more stress from the negotiation, and as a result made worse deals.  Part of the reason that they made worse deals is that they were less willing to take aggressive stances.  Obviously, this paper was limited in qualification in financial terms and not non-economic terms.

This study confirms a basic and fundamental principle regarding improving in anything.  Practice makes perfect.  The more people will practice at a negotiation, the better they will feel about the specific negotiation.  Moreover, practicing in all different environments, including the swap meet and garage sales, will help negotiators learn how to make tough calls during the mediation.

Further, the more that you negotiate, the less stressed you will be and the more willing you will be to take risks that just might pay off.

Finally, war gaming your specific important negotiation is also important.  You can play out the specific negotiation and see how the reaction may be.  You can test out hardball tactics, or what certain concessions might likely obtain in return.   In my book, I have written about wargaming, and you can learn more about practicing and preparation.  See, 112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation.

Research Source:  K. O’Connor, J. Arnold, & A. Maurizio (2010) The prospect of negotiating: Stress, cognitive appraisal, and performance.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

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