Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University looked at two approaches used in negotiations. They are called “perspective-taking” and “empathy”, which sound very similar but are not really the same. Perspective-taking negotiatiors try to understand what the other party to the negotiation is thinking, and what that person’s interest and purpose in the deal is. Empathy negotiators try to understand what the other party is feeling and what emotions they may be feeling.
So perspective-taking is looking at the business motivations of the other person, and the researchers found that — OK, I gave it away in the title — the perspective-takers were significantly more successful in negotiations. In fact, if both parties to a negotiation are perspective-takers, that increases the odds of a successful deal, but even if there is only one, it can produce a better overall outcome for both sides.
Read about the study in The Economist.