Thursday, May 8, 2008

Do left-brainers make better negotiators?

An article in this week's Economist reports on a Northwestern University study that compares negotiations in which people either empathize with the other side's feelings, or calculate his or her perspective (thoughts, interests, and intent). Perspective-takers were 1 1/2 to 2 times more likely than empathizers were to reach more mutually beneficial agreements.

Left-brainers, with their weak empathy skills, might be assumed to be weak negotiators. But their above-normal analytical skills help them tease apart the various factors relevant to deal-making and calculate the other side's interests.

The Northwestern study thus raises an intriguing possibility:  Perhaps left-brainers--even those with Asperger's Syndrome--are better negotiators than their more right-brained, empathetic counterparts.

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