The secret to being a successful dealmaker is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, according to new university research reported by The Economist.
Researchers at Northwestern University in the US used 150 MBA students as lab rats to test whether the mindset of the negotiator has any effect on their ability to successfully make deals.
They set up a deal negotiation exercise and asked 50 of the students to adopt a perspective-taking mindset – in short, to consider the deal from the other party’s perspective – 50 to take an empathetic mindset (to try to understand how the other party to the negotiation will be feeling) and 50 to approach the deal normally.
The result? The perspective-taking group were by far the most successful, with 76% successfully sealing the deal. The empathetic negotiators did less well, achieving a 54% success rate, but both were way ahead of the normal group’s 39% success rate.
The study shows that while understanding the other person is a key to successful negotiation, some ways of doing so are more effective than others, lead researcher Adam Galinsky says.
“You want to understand what the other side’s interests are, but you do not want to sacrifice your own interests,” Galinsky says. “A large amount of empathy can actually impair the ability of people to reach a creative deal.”