Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Negotiating with Jack Donaghy

The following scene from the television series 30 Rock shows the character Jack Donaghy struggling to negotiate down the pay of his nanny to a reasonable price. Here the product being negotiated is the nanny herself. The nanny successfully uses the knowledge she has about how much Jack values her to prevent her pay being reduced. Meanwhile Jack makes several errors in the negotiation by creating an unfavourable anchor, letting his emotions get involved and being unaware of his alternatives.

The nanny knows that Jack was suffering sleepless nights without the help of a night nurse. She knows that Jack values his sleep highly as he has an important job as a network executive which he can only do well in if he gets sleep. Therefore the nanny herself is valuable to Jack. With this information the nanny has power in the negotiation as Jack will not want to lose the nanny. The nanny uses this power she already has as well as using a hardball technique. This is where an individual uses pressure or ruthless means to aid them in a negotiation (Lewicki and Hiam, 2006). The Nanny puts pressure on Jack by asking the question “so what do you want to do?” This puts pressure on Jack to come up with a solution. He can see that she is uninterested in reducing her pay and so concedes in giving her the check for the full amount of pay as this is the only solution he can see available. The nanny also uses the technique of silence to win the negotiation. Staying silent creates an uncomfortable moment which Jack automatically interprets this silence as a negative response from the nanny to his request of reducing her pay. Jacks then retreats from the negotiation, scared of losing the nanny altogether.

Jack makes a couple of vital mistakes in his negotiation with the nanny. Frist, Jack creates an initial high anchor by signing a check with an amount he didn’t intend to pay before the negotiation had even begun. This anchor is then used by both Jack and the nanny to evaluate any further offers made. By making too high an anchor to start with it will be harder for Jack to drive down the price of the nanny. Yukle (1974) found that the more extreme your first offer is (as long as it is in your favour) the more successful you will be in the negotiation. However Jack has made an extreme offer in favour of the nanny and not himself!

Secondly Jack lets his emotions connected to his children and their welfare get involved in the deal. A good negotiator should stay neutral so that emotions do not negatively influence the negotiation. Jack does not successfully reduce the nanny’s pay as his emotions (that he loves his children and wants them to be cared for) get in the way. Jack also starts to get frustrated and angry when he realises he is not succeeding in the negation, showing and feeling these emotions also impedes his negotiation abilities. Negative affect has been found to hinder individuals in negotiation situations in many ways (Forgas, 1998). In addition showing that you are frustrated or angry to the individual you are negotiating with will only work in your favour if the opponent in is a position of lower power. In this case, the nanny has established that she has a powerful position in the negotiation as Jack values her highly (Van Kleef, De Dreu and Manstead, 2004). Therefore showing his frustration at the situation would not increase the chance that the nanny would concede to a lower pay check.

Finally, Jack does not seem to know about his alternatives. If Jack was aware that he could get a similar nanny for a lower prices else where he would not have to negotiate such as high price for his current nanny.  Without knowing his alternatives, Jack is cornered into paying for the current nanny at a high price.   


Forgas, J. P. (1998). On feeling good and getting your way: Mood effects on negotiator cognition and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 565–577.

Lewicki, R. J., & Hiam, A. (2011). Mastering business negotiation: a working guide to making deals and resolving conflict. John Wiley & Sons.

Yukl, G.A. (1974). Effects of situations variables and opponent concessions on a bargainer’s perception, aspirations and concessions. Journal of personality and social psychology, 29, 227-236.   
Van Kleef, G. A., De Dreu, Carsten K. W., & Manstead, A. S. R. (2004). The interpersonal effects of emotions in negotiations: A motivated information processing approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 510-528. 

Anna Caswell (blog 5)

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