Study Reveals How And When To Deliver Threats During A Negotiation

by drjim on September 21, 2012

There is a correct way to deliver threats to the other side

There is a correct way to deliver threats to the other side

Sure, I know that it might not be the nicest part of whatever negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you prefer to use, but using threats to get your way in the next negotiations that you are involved in just might be what you need to do in order to get the deal that you are looking for. The trick is knowing when and how to effectively deliver a threat…

The Study

Over at the Journal of Applied Psychology (what? You don’t have a subscription?) they recently decided to perform a study. They wanted to take a look at negotiation strategies in order to determine what works best. Specifically, they wanted to take a look at how threats can be used during a negotiation: how should they be delivered and when during the negotiation process should they be delivered in order to maximize their impact on what is being negotiated?

Because the Journal is a scholarly publication, they went about doing this study correctly. Three separate experiments were performed using more than 300 subjects – that’s a lot of negotiating! A computer was used during the experiments and during a 6-round negotiation it made either angry statements or neutrally phrased threats.

The Results

So what was the result of all of this computer negotiating time? What the researchers found was that anger and heated words tend to turn off partners in a negotiation. However, calm threats were shown to be convincing and caused the other side of the table to give in.

The researchers discovered that the other side of the table was consistently more likely to bend to your way of thinking when they were faced with a coolly delivered threat. They also discovered that these threats were more effective when they were delivered late in the negotiating session.

What All Of This Means For You

According to the negotiation definition, the ultimate goal of any negotiation is for both sides to walk away from the negotiating table with a deal that they can live with. In order to make that deal happen for you, sometimes you need to use threats in order to steer the other side towards a deal that you can live with.

A recent study has revealed that the other side was more likely to give in to your threat when you deliver it coolly and not with a burst of anger. Additionally, when threats are delivered later in the negotiating process they are more effective.

No, I’m not suggesting that you start out your next negotiation by threating the other side or by getting up and walking away – that wouldn’t be part of a principled negotiation. However, I am suggesting that you make sure that threats are a part of your negotiating toolkit and that you know both how and when best to use them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If a threat that you make does not generate the results that you wanted, should you make another threat?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In the world of negotiations there is a classic question that has existed since the start of time: who wants to “win” a negotiation more, men or women? I’ve heard this one debated over countless meals in countless bars over the years and yet I’ve never hear a good answer. We all have different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, who does it better? Guess what: that’s all changed now. The researchers have completed their study and now we know the answer.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mauro Lara September 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm

One of the best blogs on the negotiation subject. Congrats!

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Dr. Jim Anderson September 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Mauro: Thank you very much!

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