Negotiation Script xm-instituteAre software and IT workers more collaborative than people in other sectors?  We live with the notion that software developers are likely to work in teams, share knowledge, create open source products, and so on.  They seem to communicate well and to be on the same wavelength.

Is that true?  And to what extent does is matter when they talk business? Is their thinking different?  Can we be alert to those ways of thinking?

These are questions I am seeking to answer with a survey on how people think about conversations to develop business, generally, business negotiation.  That way of thinking, a mental model of what may happen, is called a schema.  You may enter talks with one or more schema in mind, and you may switch in the course of talks.  You may have a different schema for different situations.  You may, however, never have noticed any schemata at all!  We live with them…like the air around us.


But research shows that matching schemata can boost communication.  Mismatches can disturb communication.  And poor communication can lead to poor results, missed opportunities, failed discussions etc.  Generally it would be better to be on the same wavelength.


So far in my research, data suggests that there are some differences among people with different backgrounds.  The number of people in the 2014 pilot study, however, is too small to confirm the differences.  Here are some of those tentative findings:


Of the 12 schema for business negotiation identified (see my blog post “A Script for Business Negotiations (2)” not more than 6 were chosen by any one person.  Most only had 4.  Most surprising (to me, anyway) was the fact that one of the most common schema among Europeans was not known by even one of the Japanese in the survey.  A potential communication block between East and West.


Other interesting things appeared in the data.  People with more decision making power had more schemata available to them. People with more experience had more schemata available to them.   Of course we do not yet know if having schemata lead to more power, or if having more power leads the person to have more schemata.  More questions to be answered!


What about you?  Do you have more than one way of thinking about business talks?  How do you compare to others from your background or different backgrounds?  Try the survey and see what you think. You can leave your email to get results as the data comes in – rough results will be announced on the xm:blog.


The survey takes about 20 minutes, it is at


The survey will help me and my co-researcher (Arto Ojala at Jyvaskyla University, Finland) to answer the questions in this blog.  It will also help us teach business people what to look for in others to improve communication.  It may be that we can help businesses get on the same wavelength and make their efforts to work together more fruitful and efficient.