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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: July 2015

12 - Mindfulness in interpersonal negotiations: delineating the concept of mindfulness and proposing a mindful, relational self-regulation (MRSR) model

from Part II - Research



People frequently negotiate with others. Employees negotiate salary with their employers, vendors negotiate supply chain contracts with suppliers, and couples negotiate vacation plans. However, many negotiators are not effective in negotiating and only achieve suboptimal outcomes. Many negotiation scholars claim that negotiation ineffectiveness is caused by negotiators' cognitive limitations and biases, which are inherent flaws of humans (Bazerman et al. 2000; Malhotra and Bazerman 2008; Thompson, Neale, and Sinaceur 2004). Recently, negotiation scholars have started paying attention to mindfulness (e.g., Brach 2008; Riskin 2010), claiming that mindfulness can increase negotiators' attention and awareness and thus facilitate negotiation effectiveness. Reb and Narayanan (2014), for example, provided the first empirical evidence that mindfulness facilitated negotiators' distributive performance, that is, mindfulness allowed them to achieve a larger share of the bargaining zone.

Although some view negotiations as purely economic transactions, in fact, all negotiations are relational in nature. Negotiation scholars start adopting a relational view on negotiations (Bendersky and McGinn 2010; Gelfand et al. 2006; McGinn 2006; McGinn and Keros 2002). According to this view, negotiation ineffectiveness is not a result of cognitive limitations and biases, but rather is caused by a deteriorating relationship between negotiators (McGinn and Keros 2002). In order to achieve negotiation effectiveness, negotiators need to co-create the meaning of their exchange and build/maintain their relationship (McGinn 2006; McGinn and Keros 2002). However, evidence on the effect of mindfulness on relational negotiation outcomes (e.g., relational satisfaction; Curhan et al. 2008) is extremely sparse and there is a lack of strong theoretical models that can guide empirical investigation. Adopting a humanistic psychological perspective, Kopelman, Avi-Yonah, and Varghese (2012) provided the first such model, suggesting that mindfulness enables negotiators to approach negotiations holistically by co-creating narratives.

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