Dealing With Strong Negative Emotions

No one is immune to having negative emotions. They happen. And, they often happen when we least expect them. Because they can suddenly pop up and take control of your negotiation you need to be prepared for that real possibility. How?

  • Take your emotional temperature. Just how hot are you? Are your emotions out of control? Are they reaching a boiling point..simmering? Are they easily manageable? Then there are the other side’s emotions. To assess their level of emotion, you need to walk in their shoes. What is setting them off? Is it something you can mitigate?
  • Have a plan ready to soothe your powerful negative emotions. William Ury’s “Getting Past No” is a great resource for devising a plan to keep your emotions or theirs from escalating.
  • You need a plan to diagnose what triggered the strong emotions (yours or theirs). It could be core concerns — lack of sleep, hunger, the feeling of helplessness. You need to ask yourself if you are correctly identifying the why emotions have taken over the negotiation. Ask questions of yourself and them. It is too easy to assume.
  • You need to understand your purpose for being at the table. If you understand what you are for and what you are against and if you have a clear purpose in mind it is easier to deal with emotions. Understand rather than blame. Try not to vent. Acknowledge why the other side might feel the way they do. Explain why you feel the way you do. Explain to the other side the impact of their actions on you.
  • Work to improve the relationship. Find a way to show the other side that you are both in this together and you need each other to get out of the “box” in which you find yourself.
  • If you spend time trying to show the other side why you are right and they are wrong you create an even greater storm. Venting may feel good at the time but is very destructive. if you need to vent, vent to a third party because ultimately venting is self-therapy. When you unload on the other side you create an ever increasingly insurmountable wall to reaching a solution.
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