In a recent article in the Journal of Consumer Research, Eduardo B. Andrade and Teck-Hua Ho explore “emotional gaming” in consumer behavior – concealing your actual emotional state or displaying one different from your actual emotional state to try to improve the result of a consumer negotiation or social interaction.
They found that parties often achieved better results in consumer negotiations when displaying anger as long as their counterparts believed the anger was genuine.
When informed their counterpart might be inflating or faking their anger, however, its effectiveness went away.
So, should you strategically manufacture anger or other emotional feelings or outbursts to try to get a better deal?
First, evaluate this issue from a moral and ethical perspective and just don’t do it if you are personally or ethically uncomfortable with it. Any potential upside benefit in terms of results will likely be substantially outweighed by your own long-term discomfort level in using this type of tactic. Personally, I am uncomfortable with this type of tactic in almost all circumstances and just don’t do it.
Second, consider its potential impact strategically and from an effectiveness standpoint. If you aren’t that good an actor – and many of us are not – you may very well come across as fake and lose credibility, a huge element in all negotiations.
Plus, using this tactic increases the risk of emotional escalation, which could completely derail the negotiation and increase the likelihood of an impasse. And, of course, this tactic could backfire and have a significant negative effect on your relationship with your counterpart.
Bottom line: this is a risky tactic and I usually recommend against it. However, this recommendation applies to fake emotions, not sincere ones. Expressing sincere feelings and emotions can be critically important in many types of negotiations.