It doesn't pay to play angry when negotiating: study | 3/16/2018 | Staff
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Anger, the faux, feigned kind, has been a tool in negotiations for generations. The idea that pretending to be angry can coerce the counterpart into conceding to your terms. Those thinking about using such a tool, though, need to realize the real costs and risks involved.

A new paper, authored by Washington University in St. Louis faculty and alumni from Olin Business School, reports findings from five different studies of subjects in a negotiation agreement. The takeaway: inorganic anger generally leaves parties of both parts feeling guilty, distrusted and needing to make amends afterward.

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In short, "You're likely going to pay a real price for the anger you express," said Bill Bottom, the Joyce and Howard Wood Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behavior at Olin and senior author on the paper published online March 18 by the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

Bottom, who studies social and psychological aspects of negotiation, noticed how many previous studies and the business media reporting on this work have focused on "overgeneralizing a very narrow set of findings." Similar accounts published in top-notch media outlets baldly made statements akin to, "it pays to be angry."

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Not quite, Bottom said. "When you convince somebody to act like this, whether it's with their boss or trying to buy a car or trying to sell a car, we're doing a disservice if we're making such grandiose claims," Bottom said.

His interest in studying this tactic goes way back to a recollection from a member of the late President Richard Nixon's inner circle, H.R. Haldeman. Nixon boasted to Haldeman that he would end the Vietnam War by using his "Madman Theory"—if the then-Soviet Union's Leonid Brezhnev and North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh believed the man with his finger on the nuclear button was capable of an emotional explosion, they would quickly concede to American...
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