self fulfilling prophecy
What is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in Negotiation?
In negotiation, even when not based in reality, the expectation that someone is “tough” or “cooperative” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy at the bargaining table.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction of expectations that a person has that comes true because he or she expects it will. Unfortunately, this situation is common in many negotiations.
Research has shown that negotiators who were believed to be competitive (though this reputation was randomly assigned) were treated by their counterparts with suspicion. In turn, negotiators who were believed to be tough responded by acting tough; they failed to share information or to persuade the other party to make concessions. The result? Subpar bargaining outcomes for both sides.
However, research also shows that people fall victim to a host of perceptual biases when assessing others. Therefore, be prepared to find out that your opponent is very different than you expected them to be – and perhaps less competitive than you expected.
To avoid the negative impact of a self-fulfilling prophecy, remember to approach each negotiation in isolation from biases, past histories or reputations, or even prior negotiations. This method allows for the most integrative approach to the bargaining table. Discovering the unique value-creation opportunities inherent in every negotiation allows a negotiator (and her counterpart) to achieve optimal, win-win negotiated agreements, and contributes to a bargaining relationship based upon mutual exchange and goodwill.
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