In a fascinating paper* by Assistant Professor Marlone Henderson at the University of Austen, he shows that you will get a better result from your negotiations when you move further from the person you are negotiating with.
Henderson compared negotiators miles apart with those who were only a few feet away. When the negotiators were miles apart, the negotiations went more smoothly, showed more compromise and less commitment to entrenched positions and focused more on higher priority, substantive matters, rather than getting caught up on minor details.
“People tend to concentrate on higher priority items when there is more distance between them by looking at issues in a more abstract way.
They go beyond just thinking about their pursuit of the options presented to them and consider higher-level motives driving their priorities.”
The expression “to get some distance” is clearly founded in genuine insight. In my four step negotiating process, step 1 is Preparation and, as part of that, you need to think about how and where you are going to conduct the negotiation. If you feel yourself at risk of getting too caught up in the detail, it makes sense to hold it remotely – or at least, create a step where the parties can separate to consider their positions.
* Mere physical distance and integrative agreements: When more space improves negotiation outcomes
Marlone D. Henderson, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 47 (2011) 7-15