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
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
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).