Negotiating your next deal: It’s okay to, literally, sweat it — Ashley D. Brown

MIT Sloan Alumna Ashley D. Brown

MIT Sloan Alumna Ashley D. Brown

From Fortune

We negotiate nearly every day. While the term “negotiation” often brings to mind larger-stake deals, such as the purchase of a new home or car, more often these negotiations are smaller and involve project deadlines at work or divvying up of household responsibilities.

Many of us, myself included, can’t stand negotiations whether big or small — so much so that it comes as a surprise that others actually relish each chance they get to negotiate.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, most of us can relate to the feeling of pounding hearts and sweaty palms when we negotiate. Do these visceral responses — also known as physiological arousal — hurt or help us?

Most people (and existing research) consider sweating it to be detrimental; that the key to negotiating is to stay calm and collected. However, that’s misleading, according to what I found in my research with Jared R. Curhan, which was recently published in Psychological Science. We found that sweaty palms and pounding hearts aren’t inherently a bad thing. The effect really depends on your preexisting attitudes toward negotiation and whether you interpret these physiological responses as a sign of nervousness or excitement.

We conducted two studies to explore the effects of arousal on negotiation outcomes: In the first, we measured individuals’ prior attitudes toward negotiation. Several weeks later, these same individuals participated in an experiment in which they negotiated over the price of a used car while walking on a treadmill. Unbeknownst to the participants, we manipulated their heart rate through the speed of the treadmill, which was set by an experimenter.

Read the full post at Fortune.

Dr. Ashley D. Brown worked on this research as a Ph.D. student at the MIT Sloan School of Management with Prof. Jared R. Curhan.  Brown is now a research associate in the Psychology Department at Stanford University.

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