Negotiating? Put some distance in the middle

Distance between two parties leads to mutually beneficial outcomes.
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Jan 31, 2011
By dvm360.com staff

Are you ready to negotiate the purchase price on that veterinary practice you’ve been eyeing? Or are you going to ask the boss for a raise? Consider keeping the negotiations at arm's length—or longer. Adding physical distance between people during negotiations may lead to more mutually beneficial outcomes, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.

Psychologists examined how negotiations that don’t take place in person may be affected by distance. They compared distant negotiators (several thousand feet away) with those who are nearby (a few feet away) in three separate studies. What they found is that one reason distance helps in negotiations is that people tend to concentrate on higher-priority items by looking at issues in a more abstract way. They go beyond just thinking about their pursuit of the options and consider higher-level motives driving their priorities. This also probably goes a long way toward helping folks keep their cool during high-intensity negotiations.

So the next time you're ready to negotiate, take a step back—literally. The outcome might please you as well as the person on the other side of the table.