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Show sadness to gain concessions in negotiations


New York: While negotiating salary or sealing a major deal, expressing sadness during negotiations can turn the scale in your favour, suggests a new study.

People who show sadness during negotiations can gain concessions when it elicits empathy from others, the findings showed.

“We know that emotions play a role in negotiations, especially because there is a lot at stake both professionally and personally,” said one of the researchers Shirli Kopelman, an assistant professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan in the US.

“It turns out that sadness is expressed more often than one might imagine at work, and is important because it produces reactions of empathy,” Kopelman noted.

Sadness may be communicated in words and doesn’t necessitate “crying”.

For example, one may say, “What you are saying makes me sad”, or “I feel sorrow about the way things are going.”

The key is that for it to have an impact on the negotiation, the recipients must have a reason to experience concern for the one who expresses sadness, the study said.

A series of experiments involving face-to-face interactions showed how the phenomenon works.

Sadness increased concessions when people on the other side viewed the sad negotiator as having less power, or thought they would be involved with them in the future.

Recipients who viewed the relationship with the person showing sadness as collaborative were also more likely to cede some ground in the negotiation.

“Our experiments showed that expressing sadness increased value claiming in negotiations, but only when the relationship provided reasons to experience concern for the expresser,” Kopelman said.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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