How Do You Face Up to Negotiations?

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handshakeMany research studies have shown that what we look like affects what other people think of us and can influence our material well-being. Some of these findings are not very surprising. Tall people make more money than shorter people. Blonde women can have an advantage over other women even if they have less education.  The most attractive people make about$246,000 more over the course of their lifetimes than their less attractive cohorts.

But, new research found something a bit more surprising. Men with wider faces have an advantage when negotiating for themselves, but have a disadvantage when the negotiations require compromise.  Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, London Business School and Columbia University conducted four studies involving simulated negotiations among men over real estate transactions and salaries. Men with greater facial width-to-height ratios were more competitive and negotiated better deals for themselves. But, their lack of cooperation hindered their ability to create agreements that benefited all parties to the negotiations.

One study found that wider-faced men were able to negotiate a signing bonus of nearly $2,200 more than narrower-faced men. In another scenario teams of two men needed to come up with a creative solution that all parties in a real estate transaction could agree to. The teams of wider-faced men were less successful in doing this.

Michael Haselhuhn, lead author of the study and assistant professor of management at the University of California, Riverside believes the findings of the study can have wide and useful implications. For example, a narrow-faced man can prepare for more contentious negotiations when dealing with a wider-faced man or wider-faced men may make a conscious effort to be more flexible when a compromise is needed for a successful outcome. Haselhuhn says, “We negotiate everyday whether we think about it or not. It’s not just the big things like a car or a home. It’s what time your kid is going to bed or what you or your spouse are going to have for dinner.”

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