Where we negotiate may be as important as what we want to say during the negotiation.
Our research (PDF) has uncovered that residents of an office space — even after only 20 minutes of residing in a space — were able to claim as much as 160% more value in a distributive (“You win, I lose”) negotiation than the visiting party. And it is not only that residents do better when negotiating on their turf. Our study also revealed that entering someone else’s office space causes us to do worse.
One reason why location matters is that where we negotiate has a profound impact on how confident we are during the negotiation — and so much in a negotiation depends on our confidence.
As human beings we are fundamentally territorial. Just watch people as they sit down in a restaurant. You may see someone putting their coat over their chair or rearranging their plate and silverware. All of these behaviors allow us to make ourselves comfortable where we are. They allow us to feel “at home.” At the same time, they signal to others that this is our space and that it should not be infringed upon.
Psychologists talk too much about mental framing but sometimes physical framing matters even more! Cite this to my model