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Business Horizons (2009) 52, 595604


Why Dick and Jane dont ask: Getting past initiation barriers in negotiations
Roger J. Volkema
Kogod School of Business, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016, U.S.A.; Coppead-UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Negotiation; Initiation behavior; Attitudes; Self-efcacy; Situational factors

Abstract Negotiation is an essential skill for personal well-being and professional success, a skill that begins with identifying and acting on ones wants and needs. Many individuals, however, lack the condence, motivation, or training to simply ask for what they want in certain situations; for example, when negotiating with an important client. Still others are reluctant to initiate requests in general. This article discusses the personal characteristics and situational factors that inuence an individuals likelihood of engaging another party in a negotiation, making a request, and optimizing that request. Herein, specic suggestions are offered for managing this critical phase of the negotiation process via three steps: mental preparation prior to the engagement; positioning prior to, and at the point of, the engagement; and verbal craftsmanship during the delivery of ones request. # 2009 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.

1. The importance of asking

Negotiation is generally considered one of the essential skills necessary for organizational effectiveness and success (Greenhalgh, 2001; Mintzberg, 1973). Individuals in all types of organizations and at all organizational levels negotiate on a daily basis: stafng requirements, budgets, project deadlines, meeting dates and times, joint ventures, and so forth. Given the importance of this attribute, many of the negotiating skills of effective people are employed in both personal and professional negotiations (Lewicki, Barry, & Saunders, 2007).

E-mail address: volkema@american.edu

As with most processesproblem solving, decision making, and group and team development, among othersthe early stages of the negotiation process often inuence how succeeding stages will unfold (Wheeler, 2004). Figuring out what one wants is part of the challenge in these encounters, as all humans have multiple wants and needs with varying degrees of importance (Gist, Stevens, & Bavetta, 1991). Yet, even when individuals have clear aspirations, they often do not ask for what they want (Small, Gelfand, Babcock, & Gettman, 2007; Volkema, 1999). Instead, they ask for less than what they truly desire (i.e., sub-optimize), they engage the other party but dont make a request, or they choose not to engage the other party altogether. Studies involving salary negotiations, for example, have consistently shown that individuals do not

0007-6813/$ see front matter # 2009 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.07.005

596 initiate compensation discussions, despite the fact that these discussions often produce higher salaries (Babcock & Laschever, 2003; Bowles, Babcock, & Lai, 2007; Gerhart & Rynes, 1991). Further, according to Rousseau (2005), there are many additional opportunities for employees to negotiate special dealssuch as exible work hours, international work assignments, and educational opportunities which they frequently fail to do. For some people, the inability to ask is a chronic problem. They lack the social skills, condence, or will to initiate encounters. For others, the behavior is more episodic, a function of immediate conditions. In either case, the result is almost certain to be the same: a sub-optimal outcome. Why do individuals fail to ask for what they want in a negotiation, or ask for less than they desire, even in apparently benign situations where the other party is willing to cooperate and the likelihood of a favorable agreement is quite high? The purpose of this article is to offer insights as to why individuals do not ask for what they want in negotiations, and to provide suggestions for increasing individual awareness and success through more effective preparation, positioning, and delivery of a request.

R.J. Volkema symbolic than deterministic, so sticker prices and the like are viewed as but starting points in negotiations (Hofstede, 1997; Schuster & Copeland, 1996). Demographic factors such as age and gender determine who has power in social encounters or negotiations in many cultures, which also can affect initiation behavior. In Japan, for example, age is revered. An individual is expected to defer to the wisdom of an elder in personal and professional settings (Marsland & Beer, 1983). Consequently, elders are more likely to take the lead in discussions, while younger members listen and follow. The roles and behavior of men and women often are differentiated, as well. In several Middle Eastern countries, for example, women hold a more subservient role in society (Metcalfe, 2006). In this role, they are expected to defer to the judgment of their husbands and other males. However, even in Western societies, women are less likely to take the initiative in a negotiation. According to Babcock and Laschever (2003), women tend to be more apprehensive about negotiations than are men, and consequently they are less likely to initiate a negotiation. Interestingly, when they do negotiate for example, in salary negotiationswomen generally ask for and receive considerably less than do men. Culture and socialization may also inuence how a request is initiated. In low-context culturesfor example, as found in the United States, Israel, Germany, and Swedencommunication is typically precise, direct, and verbal. However, in highcontext culturessuch as found in many Pacic Rim countriescommunication is usually more implicit: based on context, relational development, and nonverbal cues (Hall, 1976). Not only might we expect someone from a low-context culture to be less concerned about the social ramications of initiating a request, but this individual would probably be more direct and vocal in making that request (Adair, Okumura, & Brett, 2001). The other primary negotiator characteristic that can affect initiating behavior is self-efcacy, or the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner or attaining certain goals. In general, if a negotiator has succeeded in similar situations in the past, or at least has seen others do so, they will have more condence and motivation to initiate a request (Bandura, 2001). Lacking a positive experience, novice negotiators will often assume that the parties interests are incompatible and that the negotiation will be contentious (OConnor & Adams, 1999), causing hesitation or retreat. In some cases, physical manifestations such as perspiring, trembling, and stuttering may further accentuate

2. Barriers to initiation
The reasons why individuals fail to ask for what they want in a negotiation fall into two broad categories: personal characteristics and situational factors. The former are generally associated with a chronic inability to take the initiative, while the latter are more commonly associated with an episodic reluctance to initiate. Understanding these sources of hesitation in ones personal and professional encounters is an important rst step in mastering the initiation process.

2.1. Personal characteristics

Asking is a form of verbal assertiveness, which is determined by (1) an individuals belief in the propriety or appropriateness of such behavior, and (2) the individuals condence in his or her ability to function in a certain manner or attain certain goals (i.e., self-efcacy) (Bandura, 2001; Huppertz, 2003). An individuals attitude or belief toward asking in negotiations is grounded in culture and socialization. In some cultures, people are socialized to conform to policies, procedures, and rules; price tags, posted notices, and such are viewed as implicit contracts that dene the terms or conditions of an encounter. In other cultures, rules are seen as more

Why Dick and Jane dont ask: Getting past initiation barriers in negotiations the risks of asking in a negotiation (Bluen & Jubiler-Lurie, 1990; Wheeler, 2004). There are, of course, some individuals who have an innate condence that appears to transcend social context, but for most negotiators, selfefcacy is situationally determined. That is, condence is a function of the nature of the request, the environment in which the request takes place, and a negotiators perceptions of the other party.


2.2. Situational factors

While the personal characteristics of a negotiator can be somewhat enduring, there are situational factors which may moderate the relationship between an individual and his or her intentions to initiate a request. These factorsclarity of purpose, salience of outcome, time constraints, perceived alternatives, role denition, venue or setting, and perceived counterpartare likely to be more dynamic. It is not uncommon for a negotiator to lack internal clarity regarding what they want or need in a particular situation, which can impede initiation. Most purchases, for example, involve multiple desires on the part of the buyer: price, style, color, accessories, delivery date, warranty, and so forth. When a party is unclear about their priorities, they may either forget to pursue some issues or be reluctant to do so. The more variables that come into play, the more likely the individual is to lack clarity (Volkema, 2006). Presuming clarity of desire, the salience or importance of ones preferred outcome is a second factor that can moderate initiation behavior (Huppertz, 2003). Of course, importance is a relative concept: what is important to one person might not be to another, and this importance must be determined in relation to other wants and needs. Is the item or issue in question important enough, for example, to risk other issues being brought to the surface during the negotiation? There are social costs, as well as economic costs, that must be taken into consideration when an initiation decision is made (Bowles et al., 2007). When negotiators are forced to make a quick decisionwhether due to market conditions, workload, externally imposed deadlines, or some other variablethey will often be less motivated to process information, be less likely to revise unfounded distributive perceptions, and have a greater likelihood of utilizing stereotypes (de Dreu, 2003). In effect, time pressures trigger the limbic system of the human brain, to the practical detriment of the cerebrum. While the former controls emotions, the latter is responsible for analyzing and responding to

situations logically or creatively. Thus, when cornered into acting quickly, a negotiator is less likely to recognize the importance and multiplicity of their desires and see the ways in which a request can be initiated such that it will lead to a win-win situation (Fisher & Shapiro, 2005; Morse, 2006). Generally speaking, having a good alternative is one of the most effective tools in negotiating, whether that alternative involves accepting the status quo or identifying another party/option (Brett, Pinkley, & Jackofsky, 1996; Pinkley, Neale, & Bennett, 1994). If resigned to accepting the status quo, a negotiator can still engage their counterpart without initiating a request, which leaves open the possibility of the counterpart broaching the subject and making an offer. This reduces a negotiators anxiety or dissonance, since the introduction of their want or need was not volunteered (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959). For its part, identifying another party/option will likely have more potency in determining a negotiators will to initiate a request, particularly if the alternative involves a more familiar or favorable negotiating partner. In most negotiations, individuals nd themselves cast in a role: buyer, seller, agent, or partner. Each role comes with certain expectations and a natural advantage or disadvantage that can affect the initiation process. For example, unless a seller is highly motivated, it is usually the buyer who approaches the seller to make an inquiry. This automatically gives the seller leverage, as both parties will presume that the seller has something the buyer wants, and that the buyer may not have other alternatives. Further, if the buyer must travel to a sellers unfamiliar and highly public establishment, it can create even greater disadvantage and anxiety; individuals typically have more difculty asking for what they want when the negotiating venue is public, for fear of being embarrassed in the presence of others if their request is denied (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959). Presumed roles can also affect parties perceptions of the appropriateness of an initial offer. In one study of roles, for example, participants were given identical information regarding two companies, one of which was interested in purchasing the other. When randomly assigned roles of buyer and seller, and asked to determine the valuation of the target company, the sellers assessed the value as twice as large as the buyers (Lax & Sebenius, 2006). Finally, a negotiators perceptions of their negotiating counterpart are taken into consideration when contemplating engagement (Wu & Laws, 2003). Usually, these perceptions relate to the perceived power or leverage of the other party.

598 Counterparts who appear to be unapproachable physically or mentally, or who display the obvious trappings of success, are frequently assumed to have little or no interest in what the less powerful have to offer and/or to have alternatives to dealing with any single individual (Volkema, 1999, 2006). In such situations, a series of scripts are enacted subconsciously, commonly leading to a decision not to engage this individual. This may take the form of rationalizing the need for what the other party might offerthat is, deciding it is not essential or exaggerating the availability of ones options. Ones inability to initiate a request is reinforced by the fact that people in power generally make the rst move in a negotiation (Bowles et al., 2007; Magee, Galinsky, & Gruenfeld, 2007). Of course, a counterpart can seem unapproachable for any number of other reasons, including his or her reputation, observable behavior, or native languagewhich the negotiator might not speak well. The stronger the perceived evidence regarding approachability, the more reluctant an individual will be to initiate a negotiation.

R.J. Volkema 4. Anticipate possible responses (including rejection); and 5. Practice their opening. Understanding ones counterpart begins with recognizing his or her tendencies based on reputation, demographics, and personal observations. It is also important to appreciate the other partys wants and needs (Volkema, 1999). How can a negotiator help his or her counterpart? What are the counterparts immediate concerns, special interests, and longterm needs? One of the fundamental principles of persuasion is that people return favors in kind (McGinn, Thompson, & Bazerman, 2003; Molm, Collett, & Schaefer, 2007). Therefore, if an instigator does something for their counterpartfor example, share a compliment, offer a gift, or volunteer for a projecthe or she will likely want to return the favor. All types of organizations recognize the power of reciprocity, as demonstrated by the free holiday cards, calendars, and personalized return-address labels organizations send to existing and potential clients/contributors every year. Property management companies give away appliances and vacations, anticipating that recipients will return the favor by purchasing timeshares. The reciprocity principle is so powerful that often no asking is required, even when the favor occurred years earlier. For example, the Netherlands provided substantial technical and humanitarian relief to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrinas devastation in 2007 because New Orleans provided assistance to the Netherlands following a North Sea gale which swept across that country in 1953, destroying property and taking the lives of 2,000 people. As previously noted, a negotiator must be clear about what he or she desires and why it is important; this constitutes rationale. Langer (1989) found that offering a rationale dramatically increases the likelihood of the other party acceding to a request for preferential treatment. In developing a rationale, recognize that one strong argument grounded in a force or principle outside the initiators controlfor example, misfortune, natural disaster, or democratic idealscan often be more effective than a primary argument with several secondary arguments; the latter can dilute ones case (Rackham, 2003). To illustrate: A retail store that was facing cashow problems asked if it could defer its monthly lease payments until after the ThanksgivingChristmas holidays, as this would be the period of highest sales revenues for the store. Since that argument alone was palpablewith failure to grant an extension conceivably pushing the store into

3. Suggestions for managing the initiation process

Presuming that most negotiators prefer a desirable outcome, sans loss of respect or face, how can the aforementioned personal characteristics and situational factors be most effectively managed? Several steps can be taken to increase the probability of one initiating a request, as well as the likelihood of getting a positive response. These steps include: mental preparation prior to engagement; positioning prior to, or at the moment of, engagement; and verbal craftsmanship during the delivery of ones request.

3.1. Preparation
One advantage of an individual asking for what he or she wants in a negotiation is that they get to determineat least initiallythe timing, tone, and focus of the exchange. Too often in negotiations, inexperienced negotiators will rush their approach without adequate preparation. To be successful, it is essential that an instigator take time to: 1. Understand their counterpart; 2. Clarify their proposal (wants/needs); 3. Develop a rationale;

Why Dick and Jane dont ask: Getting past initiation barriers in negotiations bankruptcy, which would leave the property management rm without a tenant for an indenite periodthe property management company complied with the request. It is natural to run through a series of mental scripts, based on prior experiences or observations, before engaging another party (Steel & Konig, 2006; Weiss, 1994). Unfortunately, these scripts can keep an individual from taking action if one imagines the other party denying the request, or worse in the case of a powerful and capricious counterpart. A negotiator can manage this subconscious tendency by anticipating a counterparts reaction and developing one or more viable responses. While being nimble is every negotiators ambition, a bit of contingency planning will ease ones mind going into the negotiation, minimizing physiological factors (DAveni, 2002; Fowler & Layer, 2008). What if the other party says No? What are the three most likely reasons for denying your request? How would you respond to each reason physically, emotionally, and logically? Most importantly, how can you get a counterpart to say Yes? One particular factor that has been found to inuence condence and resolve in initiating a request is perception of a counterparts options or alternatives. In a study of buyer-seller negotiations, Buelens and Van Poucke (2004) found that knowledge of a counterparts alternatives was the best predictor of an initial offer, followed by fairness as based on estimated market value. Thus, if a negotiator believes that a counterpart has alternatives to a negotiated agreementthat is, a source of leveragehe or she will be more likely to reduce initial demands. Many countries with emerging economies recognize this relationship and have created open competition for their markets. Some years ago, for example, China brought representatives from two large telecommunications companiesEricsson and Nokiato the same hotel at the same time, going back and forth between the representatives to create competition for a contract (Cavusgil, Ghauri, & Agarwal, 2002). To defy this effect, it is important for an individual to rst be aware of the potential inuence of a counterparts perceived alternatives on initial offers or demands, but then also identify ways to minimize these alternatives; for example, by drawing comparisons that highlight the advantages of one companys product or service over those of another company (Volkema, 2006). As noted in the previous section, a negotiators own alternatives need to be identied or developed to ensure condence and assertiveness, as well (Brett et al., 1996; Fisher, Ury, & Patton, 1991; Kim & Fragale, 2005). When an individual knows


that being denied a request simply means moving on to the next option, asking for what they want becomes less imposing. Anyone who has ever shopped at an outdoor bazaar has experienced the power of alternatives. With one shop after another, each selling seemingly identical items, it is easy to be bold in making an initial offer or request. For strategic reasons, competitors often choose to locate in close proximity (McMillan, 1996), which makes identifying alternatives easier for the consumer. Retail outlets such as clothing stores, restaurants, and department stores locate in the same block or street, if not the same shopping mall; manufacturing rms also display this tendency toward grouping. Regardless, nearly every industry has identiable competitors. Therefore, an individual should not only identify one or more alternatives to negotiating an agreement with a particular counterpart, but also recognize that one of the best times to initiate a request is when ones situation seems most comfortable and secure. Finally, condence in initiating a request, or selfefcacy, can be acquired through observing the behavior of skilled others (Nadler, Thompson, & Van Boven, 2003) as well as through practice, self-reection, and feedback (Bluen & JubilerLurie, 1990; London, Larsen, & Thisted, 1999). The former can occur in a variety of settings, such as when a sales trainee accompanies and observes an experienced salesperson on sales calls with new or existing clients. For example, Genworth Financial, an international nancial services organization, requires its internal wholesalers to accompany and observe external wholesalers on the road before they will be promoted to similar positions representing the company with clients. The latter form of experiencepractice, self-reection, and expert feedbackalso can occur in this way, although a negotiator can simply approach several non-target counterparts to practice delivery before engaging his or her target organization/ counterpart.

3.2. Positioning
One of the keys to successful initiation lies in identifying negotiable moments. This entails picking a time and place that are, if possible, good for both parties. Novice negotiators who nd themselves in disadvantageous roles are most likely to benet from this tactic. For example, if a junior account executive wanted to ask the boss to nance 2 years of graduate education, it would be wise for him or her to select a time when the boss is in a good mood, when the company has just nished a protable

600 quarter, and when the account executive has recently completed an important project. In addition, it is vital to allow sufcient time to comfortably carry out the encounter. A negotiators frame of mind or disposition, as well as a counterparts temperament, will affect condence and delivery. If the negotiation is important enough, some preliminary work should be undertaken to develop a foundation of support for ones proposal. A negotiator might, for example, approach others within his or her organization who could inuence the receptiveness of a counterpart (Lax & Sebenius, 2006). Such action utilizes formal and informal communication networks within the organization to lay groundwork for the eventual request (Volkema, 2006). If a negotiator has backing from co-workers, a counterpart who turns down his or her request not only disappoints the individual, but multiple members of the organization, as well. Consider a situation which occurred at a large, east-coast teaching hospital. One of the best minds in the cardiology department began talking with colleagues privately about a potential opportunity with another hospital. The other hospital had recently purchased a new scanning device and had increased its nancial support for medical research. Some colleagues became concerned that this individual might leave the hospital, depriving the institution of not only his keen intellect, but also the heightened reputation it enjoyed with the cardiologist on staff. At the same time, the cardiologist/ researcher shared the information he had regarding the other hospital with several individuals in other departments, including the heads of two of these departments. Concerns that this physician might leave made their way to the chief administrator, who eventually invited the cardiologist to a meeting to discuss ways to keep him with the hospital. This, of course, created an ideal negotiable moment for the cardiologist. While basic elements such as creature comforts can affect attitude and process, a negotiating venue that is unfamiliar or foreign can create greater challenges, such as uncertainty regarding what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior. For example, in a given setting, is it appropriate to request that a lawyer be present at an initial meeting? In some countriesfor example, many Pacic Rim nationsthis could be viewed as inappropriate (Schuster & Copeland, 1996). Similarly, the gender and age of an individual can affect the negotiation process generally and the initiation process specically in some countries, as previously noted. There are several ways of dealing with an unfamiliar foreign environment, beginning with awareness of specic social and business customs. Toward

R.J. Volkema that end, the World Bank, the U.S. State Department, and the CIA offer on their websites detailed country studies which provide information regarding cultural distinctions. For companies seeking foreign agents to represent their organizations abroad or to advise on foreign customs and protocol, the U.S. Department of Commerce has local ofces throughout the United States to help identify countryspecic and industry-specic representatives. A foreign agent will likely have a natural feel for cultural context, for example, knowing how to read the subtleties of a situation in a high-context cultureincluding making a request without saying much of anythingand feeling comfortable being verbal and direct in a low-context culture. Most individuals would prefer to negotiate on their home turf, of course, since the location of a negotiation will likely determine whose language and customs apply (Weiss, 1994). However, even when in ones own country, some meeting locations are better than others. Because location and role are often closely linked, a negotiator can minimize the effects of the latter by adjusting the former; for example, by suggesting a non-business meeting location, by moving a counterpart from behind a desk to sitting around a coffee table, and so forth. Skilled negotiators will sometimes arrive early for a negotiationforeign or domesticto become familiarized with the food, time, place, people, and meeting site, as well as to make meeting room layout adjustments. The more important and complex the negotiation, the more critical it is to undertake thorough preparation and positioning. Consider, for example, the Ofce of the U.S. Trade Representative; this entity sends an advance team to ensure that various aspects of the location and schedule are in order prior to important international negotiations. Finally, a negotiator may also inuence the time and place of a negotiation through choice of a communication medium. A medium of moderate information richnessfor example, electronic mailcan neutralize many location effects and slow the pace of a negotiation, allowing the other party to respond when he or she is ready to reply. Telephone and electronic mail negotiations also can help disguise physiological factors such as shaking and perspiring, as well as language deciencies and inexperience through note and supporting document usage. Even some role effectsfor example, being a highly motivated buyercan be obscured through the use of such media. There is a tradeoff, however: electronic mail can limit a negotiators ability to communicate persuasive emotion, while telephone negotiations give the other party more control over the pace and duration of the encounter.

Why Dick and Jane dont ask: Getting past initiation barriers in negotiations


3.3. Delivery
There are many ways to initiate a request. Bear in mind that relational development is important and extensive in several parts of the world, such as Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America (Schuster & Copeland, 1996). Since most individuals need to get comfortable before asking for a favor, it is often a good idea to begin with some non-business communication. This could include exchanging greetings, calling the other party by his or her name, and discussing non-threatening, non-business topics such as the weather, travel, and cultural events. Offering a genuine compliment can also make both parties more relaxed, smoothing the transition to ones request (Cialdini, 1993). In general, engaging in non-business communication may minimize at least the initial effects that role denition can impose. Rather than ask for a favor outright, some individuals will raise a topic or issue in hopes that the other party will recognize the context and intent, and take the lead. For example, instead of directly requesting a special assignment, an employee might say I see the company is going to be opening an ofce in Beijing, hoping that the company representative will offer more information if not an invitation to apply. An indirect approach creates less dissonance, since the negotiator can plausibly deny having volunteered a request (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959). In addition, it does not automatically cast one in a particular role. An indirect approach might be most successful in a high-context culture, but can also be effective in the United States and elsewhere, too. By asking on behalf of someone elsethat is, assuming a more favorable rolea negotiator may limit potential personal anxiety. In this scenario, if the request is denied, the source of the proposal is presumed to be a third party rather than the negotiator, who is merely acting as an agent (Rubin & Sander, 1988). Signicantly, this technique may also increase the likelihood of the counterpart acceding to the request, as it comes from multiple individuals rather than just one. Women, in particular, have been found to be more assertive when acting on someone elses behalf than when asking for themselves (Bowles, Babcock, & McGinn, 2005). The female dean of a business school once conded to me that she was typically reticent and ineffective when trying to negotiate her own salary, benets, and perks, but she had no hesitations in asking for resources when representing her faculty or school. Another approach to initiating a request involves presenting the other party with a problem, thereby implicitly asking for their advice or assistance.

For example, one might begin by saying Can you help me? and then explain the problem or predicament. This places ones counterpart in the role of problem-solver and, ultimately, the counterpart will end up implementing his or her solution; this increases the probability of follow-through. This underscores the importance of knowing ones counterpart, and his or her proclivity to respond to such requests. Most of these approaches may not require an individual to actually ask for a favor or concession, which may be preferable for someone with appropriateness/propriety concerns or low self-efcacy. If and when it comes down to initiating a request, there are several techniques that can help. As a way of easing into a difcult question or statement, Rackham (2003) recommends that individuals begin by labeling their behavior. For example, rather than simply asking a question, Rackham suggests that a negotiator begin by labeling or signaling the behavior that is about to follow: May I ask you a question? This shows respect for the other party, and gets him or her to say Yes to something right away. In his research, Rackham found that expert negotiators were ve times as likely as average negotiators to label their behaviors. Labeling can be particularly valuable with unfamiliar counterparts or counterparts who have a presumed advantage. Getting a counterpart to say Yes to something is important for several reasons, not the least of which is the positive encouragement it gives the initiator. Ultimately, a negotiator wants to do whatever possible to get the counterpart to say Yes to a request before he or she can say No. The reason is simple: research has shown that it takes more information to change a decision than to make it initially (Gibson & Nicol, 1964; Pruitt, 1961). As such, once the other party says No, a negotiator will have to work much harder to change the counterparts mind. Of course, there are ways of asking a question that will almost certainly produce a negative response. For example, You wouldnt want to. . . or I dont suppose you would consider. . . beg for the other party to answer in the negative. They are almost self-fullling prophecies and, as a rule, should be avoided (OBarr & Atkins, 1980). Finally, as previously indicated, some individuals will turn the initiation process over to an agent. Not only can an agent bring more expertise to the process, but agents are less likely to experience emotional inhibition since it is not their fate directly at stake; moreover, agents have additional tactics available to employ, such as authority limits (Rubin & Sander, 1988). The use of agents is common in

602 many elds, including real estate, professional sports, and arts-related professions such as acting, music, and publishing. Additionally, many organizations will turn to agents when dealing with government agencies, employing lobbyists with prior experience in government to increase familiarity, rapport, and reciprocity during encounters.

R.J. Volkema The rst step in managing a persons inability to effectively initiate a negotiation is awareness of these natural conditions, followed by an understanding of when his or her reluctance to initiate negotiations occurs. Does reluctance occur in virtually all situations? Or, is it most likely to occur with certain counterparts or in certain situations? For individuals who are having difculty asking for what they want in most situations, the root cause is likely personal characteristics such as socialization or selfefcacy. Situational reluctance may have more to do with an inherent realization that such actions carry unacceptable risk due to the lack of importance, available alternatives, venue, etc., and in this case the risk is not worth the potential benet. The more situational factors apply to a given negotiation, the more likely the individual will be to avoid the other party, engage but not request, or sub-optimize his or her request. In other words, a scenario in which an individual is negotiating an important purchase, under a severe deadline, with an unfamiliar counterpart, at that persons place of business, and with no viable alternatives to a negotiated agreement, is more likely to create anxiety and hesitation than a scenario in which these conditions are exactly the opposite. In seeking to master the techniques described, an individual might consider practicing in an environment where asking is much more common and accepted (Volkema & Fleury, 2002; Weiss, 1994). For a frequent traveler, this venue could be another country or region where one is not well known and where virtually everyone is emboldened to ask for what they want. Or, a person might choose to practice by assuming a role in an industry or market where asking is more the norm. In the process, some attitudinal inhibitions might be neutralized, allowing a negotiator to gain more experience and condence in the use of various techniques. The good news is that negotiation is a skill, and skills can be acquired through practice (Ericsson, Prietula, & Cokely, 2007). Further, there are countless negotiations occurring daily in ones personal and professional life whereby this practice can take place. By beginning with more benign situations, an individual can gain the experience and condence to approach more challenging negotiations.

4. Final thoughts
During his rst campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, Tip ONeill was surprised to learn that a neighbor he had known all his lifesomeone who not only shared his political philosophy, but also for whom he had done a variety of chores growing up was not planning to vote for him. After reminding the neighbor of all they had shared over the years, ONeill inquired as to why she would not be voting for him. Because you did not ask me, she replied. Ultimately, Tip ONeill became very good at asking, as he was re-elected to ofce 16 times. For countless individuals, however, asking is one of the most difcult aspects of negotiation. Since in many cases it is both a voluntary and public act, asking can bring on considerable angst, even if the outcome is favorable (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959). Nonetheless, asking is one of the things a negotiator generally must do if he or she hopes to get something that is needed or desired. Most of us have had years of experience negotiating personally and professionally. Those experiences, and the lessons taken from them, are captured in the cognitive scripts stored in our brains. While the vast majority of these scripts may serve us well, some can limit our ability to ask for what we want in pursuit of otherwise highlyachievable goals. And, even effective scripts are of little value if our emotions limit their accessibility (Fisher & Shapiro, 2005; Morse, 2006). Human perception and judgment often are inuenced by a variety of cognitive biases. According to Thompson (2005), such cognitive biases may include:

 Stereotyping;  The halo effect: evaluation of a counterpart

solely on the basis of one attribute; and

Adair, W. L., Okumura, T., & Brett, J. M. (2001). Negotiation behavior when cultures collide: The United States and Japan. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 371385. Babcock, L., & Laschever, S. (2003). Women dont ask: Negotiation and the gender divide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

 The conrmation bias: selectively seeking information that conrms an expectation or belief. These may also cloud ones assessment of a situation, creating reluctance to initiate a request or sub-optimizing a request.

Why Dick and Jane dont ask: Getting past initiation barriers in negotiations
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