Most of us think of haggling as asserting our dominance and showing we’re unafraid to get what we want. But successful negotiation isn’t necessarily about being dominant; it’s about finding common ground.
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Researcher Scott Wiltermuth explains this concept over at the Harvard Business Review. He says that successful negotiating is more about finding a complementary relationship than it is about being assertive, and sometimes that actually means being submissive.
He explains it in a bit more detail, based on the results of a study he conducted at the University of Southern California:
This is best achieved when two parties attain what we call “dominance complementarity,” wherein one person in an interaction behaves relatively deferentially and the other behaves relatively dominantly…we found that pairs consisting of one negotiator behaving dominantly and the other negotiator behaving deferentially reached better deals than did pairs consisting of two dominant negotiators, pairs consisting of two deferential negotiators, or pairs in which neither negotiator received behavioural instructions.
According to Wiltermuth, it’s less important that you’re dominant and more important that you find that “dominance complementarity.” In short, that means knowing when it makes sense to be less dominant in a negotiation. Check out the rest of what he has to say about this at the link below.