Have you ever done business with a negotiator who just won’t stop asking for more? A sense of entitlement may be to blame, Lukas Neville of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and Glenda M. Fisk of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, found in a new study.
Psychological entitlement is a stable personality trait that has been defined as feeling as if one is “owed special treatment and unearned rewards,” according to Neville and Fisk. People who score high on psychological entitlement on personality tests demand more than their fair share and react negatively when others don’t meet their excessive demands. Dealing with the entitled can be stressful, as they tend to be selfish, low in empathy, and hostile when they don’t get what they want.
The entitled can also be difficult negotiating partners, the researchers confirmed in three experiments. In one experiment, 325 participants in an online study were surveyed about their most recent negotiation. As compared to other participants, those who scored high on entitlement in a separate survey reported being more ambitious, confident, and confrontational in their recent negotiation. They also were more likely to endorse unethical negotiating behaviors, such as offering bribes to curry favor with a counterpart. In another experiment, those who scored high on entitlement were more open to unethical behaviors in negotiation than those who scored high on a related trait, narcissism (excessive preoccupation with or admiration of oneself).
What should you do when faced with a negotiator who seems to think he’s entitled to as much as you can possibly give him? Try to show him how he personally could benefit from reframing negotiation as a collaborative enterprise rather than a win-lose contest. If that doesn’t work, consider finding a new negotiating counterpart who may be less prone to unethical behavior and more interested in working with you to create value.
Source: “Getting to Excess: Psychological Entitlement and Negotiation Attitudes,” by Lukas Neville and Glenda M. Fisk. Journal of Business and Psychology, 2019.