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  • Writer's pictureMarc Saris

Emotions in Negotiations: Your Key to Sealing the Deal or Losing It All

Updated: Jan 30

After a chair was thrown across the room in an emotional outburst, we all needed to take a time-out.

This experience early in my career was a turning point for me, as it led me down the path of wanting to know everything about negotiations. The role of emotions in negotiations has subsequently been top of mind, as the simple fact is that people negotiate with people, and people are emotional beings.

As a negotiator, it is essential to understand that emotions can significantly impact the negotiation process and determine the outcome. Positive emotions, such as trust, empathy and enthusiasm can lead to better negotiation outcomes. When negotiators establish positive rapport, they create a collaborative situation where both parties can maximize the value of the deal.

However, negative emotions such as anger, frustration and anxiety can derail negotiations and lead to an impasse. These emotions can cause negotiators to become defensive, and instead of finding common ground, they may become focused on winning at all costs, subsequently leaving value on the table.

To navigate emotional situations in negotiations, emotional intelligence is key. Emotional intelligence helps negotiators understand their own emotions and those of the other party, allowing them to manage their emotions effectively and respond appropriately to the emotions of others.

Here are three tips for managing emotions in a negotiation:

  • Be self-aware: Understand your own emotions, your triggers, and your preferred conflict mode. This will help you better understand your own emotions.

  • Practice Emotional Regulation: Manage your emotions in a way that allows you to respond to situations and triggers. Techniques such as regular meditation, breathing techniques, and visualization can help regulate your emotions.

  • Take time-outs: When you feel you are losing control over your emotions, take a time-out. For example, suggest having a short break or excuse yourself to the bathroom. This will allow you to remove yourself from the situation and rebalance your emotions.

Once you are in control of your own emotions, be observant of the emotions of the counterparty. Analyzing the emotions they show through their behaviors can provide significant insights for negotiators. Expert negotiators use this to their advantage to steer a deal to an optimal outcome.

Understanding emotions in negotiations is essential for successful outcomes. Positive emotions can lead to win-win scenarios, while negative emotions can derail negotiations. Developing emotional intelligence and using emotional regulation and active listening techniques can help negotiators navigate emotional situations and achieve their negotiation objectives.


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