Hard negotiations: Why a softer approach yields better outcomes

Most business books push a singular narrative around negotiations: Go hard or go home. The advice is tied to the idea that the negotiation table is a place of conflict where one party must best the other. But research conducted by Maurice Schweitzer, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, and Einav Hart, Wharton postdoctoral researcher and a data scientist at Uber, suggests that using a softer approach can often yield better long-term outcomes.

Group of associates at a desk signing a document

In their paper, “Getting to Less: When Negotiation Harms Post-Agreement Performance,” the scholars find that more harmonious bargaining, and sometimes not negotiating at all, can yield better long-term results. 

“As we negotiate, we’re trying to find common ground and bridge our differences,” says Schweitzer. “Through the negotiation process, we might magnify or focus attention on our differences. And if we end up with the perception that our interests are really in conflict with each other, that can spill over into post-negotiation performance.”

Read more at Knowledge@Wharton.