Negotiating with emotion

By | January 22, 2013

In my daily work, I am often negotiating with people. Either close colleagues or remote partners working on the same project. I noticed that my negotiation skills varies a lot depending on who I am talking with and on my personal emotional state. Going into negotiation late in the day after a stressful week is often the key for a pretty hard discussion. My biggest principle in negotiation and interaction with humans in general is respect. As long as the players are respecting each other, the discussion generally stays mostly reasonable. However, I was looking for some other techniques I could use to improve myself.

K. Leary, J. Pillemer, and M. Wheeler wrote an interesting article in HBR about negotiating with emotion. They describe that often, the difference between a deal and a deadlock is the ability to keep your head when others are on the verge of losing theirs. They propose 6 steps to warm up for negotiation, questions you need to asks and answer yourself before going to the negotiation:

  • How do you want to feel going into the negotiation?
  • Why?
    • We need to realize the balance in emotion needed to be successful. Simultaneously calm and alert, proactive and patient, fully grounded and creative.
  • What can you do before hand to put yourself in an ideal emotional state?
    • Listen music, relax, meditate
  • What can throw you of balance during a negotiation?
    • Learn how to deal with you hot buttons
  • What can you do in the midst of negotiation to regain your balance?
    • Take a break
    • Shift to a discussion of broad principles and concerns or points of process. The simple act of asserting control can help you recenter yourself.
    • Take a deep breath
    • Stand tall, with your feet well apart and your arms outstretched: it will rises your confidence (testosterone) and lower your anxiety (cortisol).
  • How do you want to feel when you are finished?
    • Accept that everything in negotiation is not foreseeable or within our control.

All of these will help you manage your emotion and increase your emotional intelligence. Being emotionally intelligent is apparently required to be an effective performer. This means having the capacity to:

  • Identify the emotions they and other are experiencing
  • Understood how those emotions affect their thinking
  • Use that knowledge to achieve better outcomes
  • Productively manage emotions, tempering or intensifying them for whatever purpose.

At the end of the day, it is a game played with multiple people and sometime being able to control and manage players that have lake of control over their emotion is essential in unblocking some situation.

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