INSEAD Business School, Research Paper No. 2007/60/OB
For most managers, negotiating is more art than science. Although researchers have previously established that empathy, the ability to connect emotionally with another person, and perspective-taking, the ability to put oneself in a counterpart’s shoes and understand his or her needs and challenges, are key to successful negotiation, it is not clear which of these traits has greater bearing. This study placed MBA students in tough negotiating situations to determine which of the two variables led to more favorable negotiating outcomes. Of the two social skills, perspective-taking proved to be the more valuable tactic.
Empathy is a valuable social skill, but perspective-taking enables negotiators to establish deal terms that best address the needs of both parties.