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Negotiating without anger
July 29, 2021

Can unchecked emotion be beneficial in business negotiations?

It depends. Some researchers who study negotiation skills say yes, but you must follow certain rules.  If not well managed, your anger or frustration may keep you from thinking clearly, resulting in a less profitable outcome. There are a few rules about using strong emotion, which can manifest itself as a feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility in a business negotiation.

Define your objective(s)

Manage your emotions by having a solid negotiation plan to ensure you stay focused on the outcome you want. Do role-playing so you know how to respond to demands from the other party. Know in advance what your “line-in-the-sand” is – the components of the deal that you will not negotiate – and be prepared to explain why they are non-negotiable. Not all deals are meant to happen. If you can’t get what you need, be prepared to walk away. You want a deal you and the other party can work with.

Consider the need to have a relationship with your “adversary” 

If there is a need for ongoing collaboration to provide mutually beneficial results, hostility during the negotiation phase won’t help build trust and respect. All negotiations aren’t a zero-sum game – consider the difference between negotiating a long-term deal with a strategic supplier versus buying a car. If it’s clear that the other party has no intention of reaching an agreement, you can express your disappointment, thank them for their time and leave. Find someone who wants to work with you.

Always stay in control   

Yelling, name-calling, swearing and accusing do not work. Always express your frustration in a calm, controlled and fact-based manner. If you feel your emotions are getting the best of you, leave the negotiation and come back to it later. Keep control and you will achieve far better results.

Choose your timing

See this article on managing emotions before and during negotiations or, even better, wait for a decisive point in the negotiation when a tougher response may win a concession from the other party.

Believe that emotions can work for you

If you have confidence, you will be more assertive, and will make stronger arguments for your case. If you think it won’t work, don’t do it.  

Don’t let your anger or frustration get personal

It’s OK to be frustrated or angry at the situation, condition or problem. However, anger at a person will be perceived as unjustified and immature. It is better to say, “this offer isn’t good enough” than it is to say, “you haven’t done a good job by showing me this poor offer.” 

Many negotiations can have high emotions on both sides, which can sometimes turn into anger. Having a solid negotiation plan and knowing when (or if) to introduce emotion into the negotiation will improve your chance of a successful outcome.

About the Author: 

Brian Kieley is a mentor in the Austin chapter of SCORE. He has a long career as an executive in payments, customer service, operations, social media, and product development.

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