Get real about emotions

Published: Oct 13 , 2014
Author: Gaetan Pellerin

We’ve all been trained to hide our emotions in a business environment—especially during negotiation. Keep your emotions out of negotiations or the other side may crush you, right? Not exactly, because you can’t negotiate effectively as a detached robot. So how do you find the happy medium?

Recognize that emotions—positive and negative—are totally normal during a negotiation. But we’re often so busy driving the conversation, persuading the other party and doing everything we can to close the deal, that in the moment, we lose touch with our emotions. Or we choose not to deal with them.

This can affect you whether you’re a seller or buyer. As a seller, you may have worked hard to prepare a complex proposal, which you believe is a win-win for both parties. But when you present it, those on the other side aren’t happy. Not only do they reject your proposal, they threaten to give the business to your competitor. Or, as a client, you’re told by the only vendor who carries your product line or can solve your problem that the price being offered is final, so “Take it or leave it.”

In both cases, whether seller or buyer, you feel victimized, insulted and betrayed and fear losing the deal and not achieving your goal. The muscles in your chest tighten, your anxiety rises and you feel like blurting out an angry, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” or “You can’t do that!”  But you’re professional enough to avoid such a counterproductive outburst. Yet you can’t simply dismiss these all-too-real emotions.

At this point in the negotiation, take a step back to acknowledge your emotions and analyze where they’re coming from. Once you understand them, you have two choices: Ignore the emotions and try to continue the same way. Or, be curious. Try to connect with the other person to understand his or her point of view with a question such as, “Help me to understand how you arrived at this conclusion.”

Remember that in a heated negotiation, controlling and harnessing emotions is never easy. Still, the more you’re able to acknowledge these emotions as they arise, the greater your likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes.

Gaetan Pellerin


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Gaetan Pellerin
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Why did you ask me that?

It never fails… I see smart, intelligent negotiators who have devoted lots of effort to prepare for their negotiation. They know their positions and limits. They’ve crafted a clever strategy. They have contingency plans. They’ve prepare their teams to work together. They know what they can concede and under what conditions they will concede them. But yet they fail to prepare for that one thing that derails all of their preparation…

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