Handbook of Research on Negotiation
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Handbook of Research on Negotiation

Edited by Mara Olekalns and Wendi L. Adair

Leading international scholars give insight into both the factors known to shape negotiation and the questions that we need to answer as we strive to deepen our understanding of the negotiation process. This Handbook provides analyses of the negotiation process from four distinct perspectives: negotiators’ cognition and emotion, social processes and social inferences, communication processes, and complex negotiations, covering trade, peace, environment, and crisis negotiations.
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Chapter 12: Talking it through: communication sequences in negotiation

Wendi L. Adair and Jeffrey Loewenstein


If negotiation is like a dance (Adair and Brett, 2005; Raiffa, 1981; Young and Schlie, 2011), then negotiation research needs to study its choreography. If negotiation is like an athletic contest (Gelfand and McCusker, 2002), negotiation research needs to study its plays and engage in match analysis. To understand the amount of applause and the final scores, assessing the series of moves negotiators undertake to reach those outcomes is critical. The moves in negotiations are acts of communication. Negotiators communicate using oral and written messages, conveyed with various postures, facial expressions, rates of speech, and tones of voice, among other concerns (Putnam and Roloff, 1992). Negotiators communicate in ways that are guided by the setting and their initial goals, yet even the most casual observations show that negotiators respond to each other, adapting and reacting to specific communications. The most developed line of research on communication sequences in negotiation is the work on negotiation strategy and tactics (For a related discussion of negotiation stages and turning points, see Druckman and Olekalns, Chapter 13 this volume). There is also work examining sequences of additional aspects of meaning communicated in negotiations, such as nonverbal communication and emotions (see also, Van Kleef and Sinaceur, Chapter 5 this volume), which may ultimately be combined with work on strategy and tactics into a comprehensive account of how negotiators talk their way from “hello” to “sign here”.

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