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When entering into a negotiation, individuals have the choice to enact a variety of communication styles. We test the differential impact of being “warm and friendly” versus “tough and firm” in a distributive negotiation when first offers are held constant and concession patterns are tracked. We train a natural language processing algorithm to precisely quantify the difference between how people enact warm and friendly versus tough and firm communication styles. We find that the two styles differ primarily in length and their expressions of politeness (Study 1). Negotiators with a tough and firm communication style achieved better economic outcomes than negotiators with a warm and friendly communication style in both a field experiment (Study 2) and a laboratory experiment (Study 3). This was driven by the fact that offers delivered in tough and firm language elicited more favorable counteroffers. We further find that the counterparts of warm and friendly versus tough and firm negotiators did not report different levels of satisfaction or enjoyment of their interactions (Study 3). Finally, we document that individuals’ lay beliefs are in direct opposition to our findings: participants believe that authors of warmly worded negotiation offers will be better liked and will achieve better economic outcomes (Study 4).


Jeong, Martha, Julia Minson, Michael Yeomans, and Francesca Gino. "Communicating with Warmth in Distributive Negotiations Is Surprisingly Counterproductive." Management Science 65.12 (December 2019): 5813-5837.