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Changing negative beliefs, Chats, Continuum of interpersonal skills, Influencing, Interpersonal skills, Negotiation, People Skills, Psychology, Relationships, Uncategorized, Work skills

Controlling emotions during negotiation

Negotiation – During a negotiation, how do I prevent-control my emotions (e.g. fear, anger, excessive happiness)?

Well the simplest answer is that you don’t start from here!

In the past when I was running negotiation skills workshops and pairs had to negotiate a very simple negotiation exercise I noticed that people who were passive very much under sold themselves and people who acted aggressively found it much more difficult to reach an agreement and sometimes didn’t – imagine it was a negotiation course and they could not even reach an agreement in the classroom so they had virtually no chance of doing it in a real business environment.

What I noticed was that the people who were assertive and learnt to influence not only achieved more win-win outcomes but also enjoyed themselves in the process. Because there is no doubt that negotiation is a game. It’s a bit like playing chess or ‘cat and mouse’. In fact it was this observation that got me thinking about the continuum of interpersonal skills in the first place. I realized that in order to be an effective negotiator you have to be assertive and you have to be able to influence.

So first of all to be an effective negotiator you need to learn the skills of assertiveness and influence which are briefly.

Believing you can get a good outcome

Being clear about your needs and taking action to get your needs met.

Being able to avoid deflections and stick to your agenda.

Adopting an, I positive, you positive perspective.

Using a step by step approach to your interactions

Giving constructive feedback

Building rapport

Establishing your credibility



Understanding the perspectives of others

Learning how to have a chat

Taking your time

Not rushing to achieve an outcome

If you have these skills already you will find it much easier to conduct a negotiation process. At this level the main things that are added I think are to use a negotiation structure so if at any time you get lost in the process you can return to where you were and clarify where you are up to with the other party. You also have to realize that it is a game and that there are rules to this game. Some of the unspoken rules are:-

Spot the opportunities

Use a structure

Do your homework

Plan your interaction

Collect all the facts

Work out your exit and entry points

Aim for win win outcomes

Build rapport

Start off being vague about what you want and try to find out what is on the other party’s agenda too. Do this by looking for clues that the other party might give away

If you make a proposal wait for the other party to respond before varying the proposal in any way.

Use pauses to encourage them to speak and listen closely to their response.

Look for the overlap between what you are offering and they are offering to identify if there is a deal to be made.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if there is not an overlap.

I know I am not answering your question ‘head on’ but the simple truth is that like most things in life, the more you prepare and use a negotiating structure the less fearful, angry, or excessively happy you will be. Skilled negotiators even ones working on very high stakes deals enjoy the process, enjoy meeting up with other skilled negotiator and see it as fun.

So the best piece of advice I could give you to control your emotions when negotiating is to become more assertive, learn to influence and then start to spot the negotiation opportunities which are actually everywhere if you start to look for them. I recently negotiated a pair of shoes that looked like granddad slippers on a visit to Cape Town. I had terrible blisters and desperately needed the shoes but they were the kind of shoes (with a furry lining) that only a person with blisters could love, but I managed to negotiate a deal and got the cost reduced by 25%.  The guy in the shop was happy and so was I – we enjoyed the interaction between us.

So start negotiating by looking for the smaller opportunities and when you have had some success with them you will quite naturally start to gravitate to the more serious ( and often more lucrative ones).


4 thoughts on “Controlling emotions during negotiation

  1. What’s the solution when you’re trying to negotiate with someone who isn’t interested in really negotiating? You ask your boss for a pay rise, yadda yadda, you offer all your advantages, show how it’s win/win, but at the end of the day he wants more and more for less and less, and knows you’ll struggle to get any job, never mind a better job. Is it just a waste of time?

    Posted by Mitch K | May 25, 2014, 10:27 pm
    • Hello Mitch

      This is the most tricky of your questions because negotiation as you suggest is a two way process and both parties have to be engaged to and have things to lose and gain in the process. Here you have things to gain and the manager has things to lose.

      I think the best way to answer your question is to mention the research of Harvey Coleman in his publication ‘Empowering Yourself – the Organizational Game Revealed’ in which he identifies how people get recognition. The three elements he identifies are performance, visibility and image. Interestingly he says that visibility represents 60% of how we get recognition, 30% is image and only 10% performance. Not fair perhaps but most people agree that this is how things play out in their organisations.

      So ironically I would suggest that you set some boundaries and do less work rather than more work and spend some time networking and getting your name and your work known around the organisation. In the process of chatting to people you will also come up with some new and innovative work which add value to the organisation.

      This of course means that you have to become a bit more assertive. And remember if anyone can ‘say no’ to extra work in your organisation you can too. Working hard is not often a good reason to give someone a raise where as innovation and additional contribution is.

      You also suggest that you cannot get a better job. I have done a great deal of work with people seeking new employment and I can tell you that with good self marketing, a good CV and being well prepared for the interview this can be achieved. I have a blog on here about writing an effective CV which you might find useful.

      I hope this helps.

      Posted by pamelamilne | May 26, 2014, 10:36 am
      • I think this is the key:
        “Here you have things to gain and the manager has things to lose” Maybe, but the manager has LESS to lose that you do. So, the cost/benefit analysis of giving you anything you need isn’t favourable – the manager will get most of what they want even if you get nothing you want, and they probably aren’t going to gain more by giving you anything. So why negotiate? As for other jobs, here in the UK, yes you could find another scientific/technicaljob, but if you have to move your family to the other end of the country to secure it, you have to get an astronomical improvement in pay to make it pay off. The cost of a house move is well over £10K, and on average a technical/scientific worker is earning about £30-40K. So you have to suddenly become a superhero to achieve this. See it happen much? I don’t recall seeing anyone do it in my career.

        Posted by Mitch K | May 26, 2014, 11:08 am
  2. Here’s another thing: the conditions of employment are often to do what you are told,when you are told, how you are told. You aren’t negotiating, and saying no is difficult when it’s their way or the highway. Also,when I want someone to do something, I aren’t negoitiating. Say I generate some data and take it to a statisitician for analysis/assessment. He/she doesn’t work for me, I don’t pay them and I have nothing to offer. Analysing my data is their job, the same as generating it is my job. The effort, schedule and priority are not set by either of us. You don’t get to walk around and decide what data you generate for whom, neither does the statistician get to decide whether to analyse my data or someone else’s. Maybe it’s being in a field where people are largely (very largely) chosen for their technical skills. Although the interpersonal skills is starting to grow, at the end of the day, a “statistician” with fantastic interpersonal skills who can’t actually do statistics is of quite limited value, One largely has to recruit someone with the technical capabilities and hope they have the rest, because the other way around is a total non-starter. Of course if you’re lucky you get both, but fishing in very small ponds for very narrow technical skillsets makes this less likely in my experience.

    Posted by Mitch K | May 26, 2014, 11:31 am

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