Turns Out Your Face May Determine How Good Of A Negotiator You Are

The size of your face may determine how you'll act during a negotiation
The size of your face may determine how you’ll act during a negotiation

Image Credit: julien haler

I wish that there was a way that when I first met the other side of the negotiating table that I could instantly size them up and know what negotiation styles, negotiating techniques I should use with them. I’d like to know how they were going to approach this negotiation: were they going to be an aggressive “winner take all” negotiator or a let’s find a way to make this work” one? It turns out that some researches just might have come up with a simple way to figure this out before the negotiating begins…

It’s All In The Face

Thank goodness for those researchers – they are always looking into the things that you and I never seem to have enough time to play around with. In this case the researchers were studying how men negotiate. More specifically, they were talking a look at the differences in negotiating styles between men with wide faces and men with narrow faces.

What they discovered was that men with wide faces tend to enter into a negotiation with a more competitive approach than men who have narrow faces. When we say a wide face, what we are talking about is someone who has a bigger facial width to facial height ratio. These types of negotiators tend to do very well in negotiations that involve obvious winners and losers.

Not to get all negative or anything like that, but previous research has shown that men who have wide faces are often considered aggressive, self-interested, and may even tend to be unethical at times. Where things get very interesting is when negotiations that require compromise and the creating of creative solutions, these wide-faced men do not fare as well as their narrow faced colleagues.

How You Can Change Your Face

All of this discussion about face width brings up an awkward discussion: are we all prisoners of our face? Does our face determine how we will negotiate in our next negotiation? More importantly, does our face give away how we negotiate to the other side of the table? Will we need to wear a bag over our head to our next negotiation?

The answer to these questions is, of course, no. What all of this research does mean is that the next time that you enter into a negotiation, you should take just a moment and look at what the other side of the table’s head looks like. If it comes across as being wide, then you should anticipate a more continuous negotiation.

If it turns out that you do have a wide face, that’s not the end of the story. Instead, knowing that the other side may anticipate that you will be a continuous negotiator simply because of your face, you can change things. Change your approach and become more cooperative and you’ll have a very good change of throwing them off their game from the start of the negotiations.

What All Of This Means For You

When you enter into your next principled negotiation you sure would like to know what kind of opponent you are going up against. Based on some research that has been done lately, it turns out that this just might be possible by taking a look at your opponent’s face.

What the researchers have found is that men with wide faces tend to take a more competitive approach to a negotiation. This can help them come out on top in negotiations that have clear winners and losers. However, if a negotiation calls for compromise and creative solutions, then wide faced men often run into problems. Once you know what your own face looks like, you can make a decision to change how you’ll be perceived.

I’m not sure if your negotiating style can really be traced to how wide your face is. However, we can’t argue with research results and so there could be some interesting additional things that go along with someone who just happens to have a wide face that may determine their negotiating style. No matter, take a look at the other side’s face before you start negotiating next time and see if you can guess what their negotiating style is going to be…

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

Question For You: If you don’t have a wide face, do you think that you can still do well in a negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Guess what? You’ve been asked to participate in a negotiation. Great. Now what do you need to do in order to prepare for this negotiation? One thing that you are going to want to give some thought to is just exactly how you are going to be able to convince the other side of the table that your position is the right position no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. This is going to take some serious convincing. It turns out that you won’t be able to do this by yourself – you’re going to need some documentation.