AI Facial Expression Technology – How To Use It To Improve Negotiations

AI Facial Expression Technology – How To Use It To Improve Negotiations

Co-Authored by Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator

Some organizations are using artificial intelligence (AI) facial expression technology to achieve greater negotiation outcomes. That’s to say – organizations are already receiving the benefit of having bots (short for robots) negotiate on their behalf instead of their human negotiators. Now, they’re upping their game by adding facial expression recognition to their negotiation repertoire. 

If you have facial recognition and expression technology on your side, it’s a plus. If you’re on the opposite side, it will be a detriment. The following explores how negotiators can use AI facial expression recognition to improve the negotiation process. It also explores how one might protect themselves. 

Facial Expression Recognition Value 

Most negotiators know they can gain valuable insight into their opponent’s emotions based on that person’s facial expressions. Thus, even when an opposing negotiator may indicate he’s aligned or opposed to a request, his facial expression will indicate the degree he’s committed to his statement. That becomes an added value to the information gathering by the receiving negotiator. There are seven micro-expressions generic to everyone on the planet. (See more about micro-expressions here.) Accordingly, if you applied the same stimulus to people in various parts of the world, each would display the same facial expression. 

Facial recognition can also identify head movement gestures. By doing so, it could measure the degree of alignment a negotiator has with an offer. Algorithms can predict the next best

action one should take based on the degree to which a negotiator moves closer or further away from the offer presented. Those recommendations give the receiver invaluable information about his negotiation counterpart’s thoughts. 

How AI Facial Recognition Works 

How does AI detect facial expressions? It uses two facets; one is computer vision, used to identify images. In this case, the image would be a face and the components of it that create the expression. The second is machine learning, another aspect of AI used to identify the emotion expressed by the face/image. 

Thousands of labeled faces with various expressions serve as input to become the foundation for machine learning. From that input, the machine learns to identify emotions based on human facial expressions. The machine then adds to its repertoire as it gathers more data. This training enables the machine to identify the emotions of people it hasn’t seen before. For example, when the machine receives images of thousands of faces labeled surprise, it will learn how to identify the face of a surprised person, even if it’s never seen that face prior to that interaction. It recognizes the raised eyebrows, widened eyes, and mouth agape as an expression of surprise.

Many companies have created facial expression recognition software. In some cases, the software is incorporated into negotiation software to tell when a person’s emotion changes from happy to angry. This change can signal a difference in a person’s feelings about an offer.

If you plan to use AI to negotiate, it needs to be reliable, and AI is only as reliable as the data used to train it. When evaluating companies from which to purchase negotiation software with facial expression recognition, ensure the company uses a data set with thousands to millions of diverse faces.

Facial Expression Recognition Usage In Negotiations – The Pluses and Minuses 

There are definite pluses and minuses to using facial recognition in negotiations. Question: To whom does the benefit go, leaving the other party disadvantaged. Answer: The entity that acquires a viable AI facial recognition negotiation system will be in a strong position throughout the engagement. And that’ll leave their counterpart at a decisive disadvantage. 

If a negotiator does not have the resources to acquire AI negotiation software, there are techniques one can implement to improve their negotiation efforts against entities that are assisted by AI. One can do so by wearing items that distort their facial appearance. Things such as dark or thick-rimmed glasses, heavy facial hair, thick makeup, large hats with brims will serve that purpose. 

The point is, the more you’re able to distort your facial appearance, the more difficult it will be to discern your facial expressions. That means the system attempting to process data points on your face to identify expressions may have difficulty detecting your emotions. And that’s how you’ll be able to decrease your negotiation disadvantage. 


Are you leveraging artificial intelligence to gain a competitive advantage in your field? Improving negotiations by detecting emotions through facial expressions is just one aspect one can employ to achieve optimal business results. Small and large companies are using AI to enhance many additional business outcomes and you can too.

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