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Science proves that eating cupcakes will make you a better negotiator

cupcakeYou should probably be eating more cupcakes.  It’ll make you a better negotiator.  I have pretty conclusive evidence showing that glucose increases your cognitive faculties, improves physical stamina and even your ability to manage your emotions when negotiations get tough.

In the words of Jeffrey Lebowski, new shit has come to light.  I have recently come across 3 reliable sources educating me on the mind-altering powers of the red velvet variety. 

The first was a set of experiments conducted by psychologist Roy Baumeister on how glucose depletion affects our cognitive processing and self-control.  The second was the connection between these findings and our decision-making processes as cited in Daniel Khaneman’s fantastic new book Thinking Fast and Slow.  And the nail in the coffin was a post by blogger Jesse Galef entitled the reasons why decision theory tells you to eat all the cupcakes.

Let me explain.  Willpower, critical thinking and physical effort all draw off a shared pool of mental energy.  (This is why you feel physically tired after a tough day sitting at your desk and why you are more likely to break your diet after going to the gym.)

Your mental energy is fueled by glucose reserves.  You have a limited supply of glucose in your body, which means you have a limited supply of willpower or cognitive processing power in a given day.  Ever notice how you have trouble thinking clearly when you’re hungry?  You’re likely in need of a glucose boost.

So if you have a big negotiation coming up and you pass on the dessert cart here’s what’s going to happen:

The willpower it takes to say no to a cupcake (which in my case is a LOT) uses up the glucose reserves your brain is going to need to think clearly and maintain your cool in the negotiation.  So saying no to the cupcake will actually make you a WORSE negotiator.

In addition, Baumeister’s studies have shown that glucose consumption limits cognitive errors and improves performance while people are performing complex tasks (like negotiating, for example).  You know what have a whole hell of a lot of glucose?  Cupcakes!

So if you say yes to the cupcake, not only are you maintaining the glucose reserves your brain needs to negotiate well, you are getting a glucose boost from the cupcake itself, IMPROVING the way your brain functions.

That’s as much scientific proof as I need.  Say yes to the cupcake/ cookie/ sugary treat and you’ll have more mental energy to invest into being creative, meeting your interests and managing the emotional element of your work.

Cupcakes make you smarter and richer?  That’s pretty much the best news I’ve heard all year.

What do you think?

About the author: Hi I’m Dan Green, blogger, entrepreneur, documentary film producer and negotiation specialist. I’ve helped executives negotiate deals worth up to 400 million USD. But before you read on…

7 comments… add one

  • Isabella

    Ummm, I’m not an expert in these things, but have read a touch of Tim Ferris’s work … wouldn’t we be better off eating some sort of low-GI food, like chocolate for example, so our insulin doesn’t spike and remove all the glucose from our blood stream?

    • Dan

      Great question, Isabella. Baumeister’s research pretty conclusively shows that sugar consumption in particular (over low GI foods) leads to increase in cognitive function over the course of performing a complex tasks (like negotiating). However, I’m also familiar with Tim Ferriss’s work and, to be totally transparent, follow his slow carb diet myself so as to avoid this issue all together (except on Saturdays). You are right that consuming low GI foods will skirt the issue of dropping glucose levels (in my experience), but you would have to follow that kind of a diet consistently, not just prior to a negotiation. For people eating a “regular” diet most of the time, research suggests that cupcake consumption is still the way to go when it comes to their pre-negotiation snack of choice.

  • Nice post…I’ll definitely eat more cupcakes!! 2 skills to have in the toolbox “Negotiation” & “Influencing”! Thanks for the post!
    http://www.slideshare.net/aharrell2000/influence-negotiation-presentation2
    http://www.ah2andbeyond.com

  • Perhaps this is what prompted Marcus Lemonis to purchase Crumbs Bakery – he must have many more negotiations coming down the pike!

    • Dan

      I completely missed this comment, Michael! I expect you invested according to my (inadvertent) stock tip :-)

  • Bruno

    Really Dan? – I think your writing is very good, to the point I almost believe what you suggest. I particularly loved the Lebowski quote, however – if anything, my personal experience with sugary food and mental energy is the exact opposite.

    I feel physically and mentally drained by high-sugary foods. Glucose is a different thing from sugar, by the way. (You may be referring to sucrose and it’s not as good as you say – I wish it were though. 😉

    • Dan

      Hi Bruno. Thanks for the comment and sorry for the (extremely) delayed response. Good points. Truth be told, I try to limit the amount of sugar I eat as well to avoid the same problem (been following Tim Ferriss’s slow carb diet for years). However, for those who consume a “normal” diet, Baumeister’s results show sugar (which converts to blood glucose, I believe) has this affect.

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