Breathe Your Way to a Good Deal: The Effect of Concentration Exercises on Negotiation Outcomes

J. REB, Singapore Management University
J. Narayanan


While scholars and practitioners agree that preparation plays a crucial role for achieving successful negotiation outcomes, there is little empirical research on the topic. In the present research we examine the effect of engaging in a concentration exercise in preparation to an upcoming negotiation on negotiation outcomes. Traditional approaches to negotiation preparation emphasize rational planning and analysis. However, these activities are unlikely to address all challenges of negotiating, especially those associated with a lack of attentional focus on the task at hand. In two experiments we found that engaging in a concentration exercise significantly improved performance in a distributive negotiation task vis-à-vis a control group that engaged in an unrelated filler task or that did “traditional” planning for the same amount of time. This effect was observed for both objective and subjective outcome measures. Mediation analyses suggest that the effect works through increased negotiator concentration and reduced anxiety.