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  • Writer's pictureMarc Saris

The Role of Satisfaction in Negotiations

Updated: Jan 30

Negotiation is a ubiquitous activity in our daily lives. The formal definition of a negotiation is: “a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement.” However, this definition fails to fully capture the meaning and experience of what a negotiation is. Negotiations are not just about reaching an agreement, it is a ritual we go through to test one another, to create satisfaction with the counterparty to ensure that they feel like they have gotten a good deal.

You can almost image negotiations being like a game, with each party striving to achieve the best possible outcome for themselves. However, the process of a negotiation should not focus solely on the outcome, but also on the process of how the outcome is achieved. How someone experiences the negotiation process will determine how satisfied they are with the final outcome. If one party does not feel satisfied with the process, it can lead to skepticism or frustration, which can put the current or future deals at risk.

The effort justification theory sheds light on the importance of satisfaction in a negotiation. This theory states that the effort required to obtain something raises its perceived value. In the context of negotiations, if the negotiation is too easy, one party may become skeptical or even frustrated (Giving too much too soon and soon enough you'll be wishing you held back more). They may feel that they could have gotten more if they had put in more effort. On the other hand, if the negotiation is challenging, and both parties have to work hard to reach an agreement, they will value the outcome more. They will be more satisfied with the process and the outcome.

Therefore, to generate satisfaction for both parties, negotiations should be approached as a game a necessary ritual that should be played with the end goal of creating satisfaction for the parties involved. The process of negotiation is just as important as the outcome. If both parties feel satisfied with the process, it can lead to a long-lasting and positive relationship. Consider the following key aspects to ensure satisfaction:

  • Don't concede too quickly. If you do, you run the risk of the other party thinking they could have gotten more. Take your time when considering and accepting the other party's offer.

  • Accept with reluctance. Have you ever been in a situation where the other party accepted your last offer with a huge smile on their face? Think about how that made you feel. You want to avoid creating that feeling in the other party. Instead, when accepting a proposal, do so with reluctance, as if you have no other option. This will make the other party feel like they have achieved the impossible, which increases their satisfaction.

  • Open with an extreme offer i.e. ask for more than what you need. This allows the other party to negotiate you down and you to concede, creating satisfaction in the process.

Therefore keep in mind negotiations are not limited to reaching an agreement. They are a process of building relationships, testing one another, and creating satisfaction for the parties involved. So next time you are preparing for a negotiation, plan on how you can raise the level of satisfaction for the other party.


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