If you are negotiating with someone who has more power than you it is a good idea to avoid face-to-face meetings.
That is the conclusion of research presented today, Wednesday 10 April 2013, by Michael Taylor from Imperial College London at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate.
Michael Taylor and his fellow researchers conducted two studies in which the same negotiation was conducted face-to-face and in a sophisticated 3D virtual simulation. In the first study 74 people took part in a two-sided negotiation in which one party had more power than the other. In the second, 63 people conducted a three-sided negotiation where they were playing the part of people at different levels in a hierarchy.
The results of the first study showed that the side with less power did better in the virtual negotiations than the face-to-face ones. In the second study, the least powerful side outperformed the other two in the virtual negotiations but not in the face-to-face ones.
Michael Taylor says: "It looks as though it is a good idea for less powerful parties to negotiate from remote locations rather than face-to-face. When people negotiate from further apart, it affects their whole way of thinking. This can mean the contextual details of the negotiations, such as power hierarchies, have less impact on the outcome. This has implications for team negotiation and shared decision-making in the workplace."
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