Many people consider negotiations to be stressful and threatening. Others view them as challenges to be overcome. Do these different attitudes influence the outcomes that people reach? New research by professors Kathleen M. O’Connor of Cornell University and Josh A. Arnold of California State University sheds light on this important question.
In a series of laboratory studies, O’Connor and Arnold confirmed that some people view negotiation as a threat, and others view it as a challenge. The researchers examined the outcomes achieved by the study of participants who placed themselves in one of the two categories. When talks had integrative potential (also called a win-win situation), participants who viewed negotiation as a challenge were better at identifying and capturing opportunities to expand the pie than were those who viewed it as a threat. But in purely distributive (win-lose) negotiations, no significant difference in outcomes existed between the ‘threat’ and ‘challenge’ groups.
For those who view negotiations as stressful, O’Connor and Arnold’s results provide motivation to boost your confidence. Do you visit haggle-free car dealers because you find car buying to be stressful? If so, this research suggests that you might benefit from haggling at a more traditional car dealership because buying a car is primarily a distributive exercise. In addition, negotiating a satisfactory purchase price might reduce your stress level in future integrative negotiations, where stress can hinder the process of value creation.