Emotions in Negotiations

Keeping your cool.

We’ve all seen it happen: someone loses their cool and then things go downhill very quickly. This is the last thing we want to see happen during a negotiation. Strong emotions during a business negotiation can lead to deadlock.

Getting emotional during a negotiation has an effect both on you and the other party. When you are emotional, you don’t think clearly. In fact, you distort reality and even lose touch with what is really going on.

Your emotional actions breed reactions from the other party. The other person might react quite negatively to your emotional outburst: he/she might become afraid that things are out of control or feel that that he/she pushed you too far.

Some negotiators use emotion to manipulate a negotiation. They feign anger or apathy to move the negotiation toward their goals precisely because they understand that emotions create reactions in the other party. Be wary of this type of manufactured emotion.

Of course, it is hard to escape our genuine emotions. A strong emotion can show what you really care about. However, in the interest of the negotiation, you must keep your cool.

Here is what to do when a negotiation turns emotional:
• Focus the discussion on facts, and not feelings.
• When things get too heated, call for a time-out (or a coffee break).
• Rephrase the other person’s comments to show active listening.
• Always work to maintain your composure.

And remember, a negotiation is a discussion not an argument. The person who shouts the loudest does not win!


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