We experience negotiations all of the time in our day-to-day lives. People negotiate for everything from a good price on meat in the butchers to a child asking to extend their bed time past 8 O’clock.
Here I have transcribed a script of a negotiation from an episode of Friends that represents a straightforward give and take negotiation. It is written out step by step and I have woven the negotiation analyses in with it to make it as clear as possible.
1.The scene opens with Rachel writing at the table (obviously annoyed) and Ross looking distressed. Forgas (1998) found that ‘mood states have a significant effect on people’s planned and reported negotiating strategies and that individual differences can play a major role in mediating these effects’. The fact that Rachel’s annoyance is affecting her mood will soon become apparent.
2.Ross begins by pleading with Rachel – apologizing and saying, “What can I do to show you how much I want you to be there?” He’s trying to persuade her to go to an event.
3.Joey chimes in and suggests that Ross “drink the fat” – a cup of chicken fat is sitting on the side.
4.Rachel latches onto this idea, drinking the fat is, understandably, a gross thing to do (something that Ross wont want to do) making it worthy of an apology of her eyes.
5.Ross, wanting to get Rachel to his event, agrees to do it, “if that’s what it takes to show you how much you mean to me and how much I want you to be there, then that’s what I’ll do”. He wants to make her happy. If she’s in a good mood she might be more likely to agree with him and go to the event. Forgas’ (1998) research supports this, finding that good mood seems to be a marked inclination to be more cooperative.
6. When Rachel sees that Ross actually was going to drink the fat in order to get her to go to the event, she acquiesces and Ross has won the event.
The problem of conflicting motivations (Malhotra & Bazerman, 2007) overshadows this whole negotiation. The conflicting emotions principle states that we have two selves, the ‘want-self’ which internally argues for what we want to do, and the ‘should-self’ which argues for what we should do, a moral compass if you will. Rachel knows that she ‘should’ go to Ross’ event to support her boyfriend, but her ‘want-self’ wants to punish him for annoying her. In the end her ‘should-self’ wins, it argues against cutting off her nose to spite her face. She decided against letting something silly like a petty argument preventing her from supporting her partner.
Lucy Berkeley-Blog post 5.
Forgas, J. P. (1998). On feeling good and getting your way: mood effects on negotiator cognition and bargaining strategies. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(3), 565.
Malhotra, D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2007). Negotiation genius: How to overcome obstacles and achieve brilliant results at the bargaining table and beyond. New York: Bantam Books.