Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I'm tired of nice people.

Not people who are genuinely nice, you understand.

They simply fascinate me as to how their niceness can be so natural.

No, I'm consistently perturbed by those who fake niceness because they think that's what they're supposed to do.

And because they think it's the best way to get what they want.

There's been plenty of management -- and psychological -- thinking that being nice is the best attitude during a negotiation.

I, for one, can't wait to see footage of, say, Rupert Murdoch employing effusive charm to get what he wants.

However, a new Harvard study might just give you pause. 

It has a bracingly academic title: Communicating With Warmth in Distributive Negotiations Is Surprisingly Counterproductive.

These large brains wanted to see whether, in trying to get a discount on a phone via Craigslist, it paid to be unctuous or, well, tersely pointed.

The basic conclusion: 

Negotiators with a tough and firm communication style achieved better economic outcomes than negotiators with a warm and friendly communication style in both a field experiment and a laboratory experiment.

You see, not only did the researchers perform the Craigslist experiment, but they also got real humans into a lab to see if it could be replicated.

And goodness me, it could.

Here's a sample of a nice attempt at negotiation: 

Hey there. So I'm looking at this beautiful sugar bowl, which I would love to have to complete my set. It's the last piece I need to complete what a dear relative of mine used when we would spend time together and it would mean a lot for me to have it, but I don't have so much to offer. If you'd be willing, I can offer $250 for it. Please let me know!

So very Bay Area, right?

And here's a sample of a more winning, tough, and firm approach: 

Hi! I want to buy this sugar bowl from you, and I can offer you $250 for it. Do we have a deal?

Yes, it seems that the art of the New York hustle is, indeed, the true art of the deal.

The researchers are keen to point out that the sole subject matter in their work was who could get the best counteroffer.

Moreover, it would be heartening to know how often the sellers could see through a niceness that came across as painfully invented.

Yet the researchers offered an especially uplifting message for every salary negotiator and every consumer who's trying to get the better end of the deal.

They said

Warm and friendly negotiators ended up paying 15 percent more for the same item as compared with tough and firm negotiators. This is because sellers made more aggressive initial counteroffers and won more concessions from friendly buyers over the course of the 10-minute negotiation.

Perhaps you might think being nice in the short-term will bring you greater victories in the long-term.

Then again, everything seems very transactional these days, so it's hard to have too much faith in your fellow human's, well, human side.

Published on: Sep 12, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.