Negotiators – Born or Made?


December 7, 2020

by: Dr. Lee Warren

Have you ever heard someone say, “She’s a born negotiator”? Maybe you have said it yourself. Maybe it has been said about you. The fact is, great negotiators are made, not born. Negotiation is a skill that can be acquired, and then polished and honed. Over the past three decades, a rich literature has grown up around the finer points of negotiation. Researchers have engaged in experiments that answer questions such as these:

  • Should you negotiate hungry?
  • Should you make the first offer?
  • How does anger impact negotiation?
  • When should you reveal your away-from-the-table alternatives?
  • How do men and women differ in their negotiation practices?
  • What cultural differences are most confounding in the realm of negotiation?
  • How do aspirations affect outcomes?

While each of us may develop stylistic differences that “fit” us, understanding the research enables us to plan our strategies based on documented evidence. Consider this example. Conventional wisdom advises us never to make the first offer. Likely this has to do with concern that your negotiating partner will immediately (and happily) accept your offer, the deal will be done and you will instantly regret the whole transaction. Assuming you are prepared for the negotiation, this will not happen! Research by Galinsky and Mussweiler (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2001)documents the power of the first offer in setting a psychological anchor that becomes the base from which both parties work. This anchor-setting behavior is one of the key predictors of deal outcomes. Yes, both parties will make concessions and demands around this point, but setting the point of departure significantly shapes the ultimate deal.

Based on the results of scientific research around negotiation, as well as a structured process used by the U.S. Diplomatic Corps and businesses in all industries, you can hone your negotiating skills to a fine point. You can use these skills to add value to our organization and to reach more satisfactory results in personal settings.

Are you interested in learning more about Negotiation? The Center for Executive Education offers the Mini MBA Program and a Negotiation Certificate to help professionals prepare for a negotiation.  Click HERE to request more information.

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