It may be tempting to think of the business world as a place run on hard numbers where sentiment has no standing. But like all human relationships, business negotiations involve complicated emotions, and how you express your feelings during a given interaction can affect the outcome in very different ways.
That’s where Naomi Rothman’s research comes in. Rothman, an assistant professor in the department of management in the College of Business and Economics, studies the social consequences of emotions, power and justice in the workplace.
Her primary research examines the role of emotions in decision making and how emotional expressions shape social interactions.
Almost all of the prior research into emotion and management focuses on single emotions, such as anger or happiness. But Rothman studies ambivalence, which involves the simultaneous experience of multiple emotions in conflict.
People who express anger are perceived to be aggressive and dominant and can usually get others to concede in competitive negotiations. However, Rothman has found that people who express ambivalence elicit perceptions of deliberation and submissiveness, leading people in competitive negotiations to want to take advantage of them.
However, the situation changes in a more cooperative environment, where preliminary evidence by Rothman suggests that people feel empathy for ambivalent counterparts and they may become more creative in their negotiations, coming up with solutions that benefit both parties.