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This month’s focus: As much as we like to say otherwise, we are emotional in negotiations. The question is: what are we going to do about it?
Most of us, especially the males amongst us, try to take emotions out of negotiations. The truth is that we seldom get this absolutely right. We want something, and might be prepared to accept something less, but that’s always second prize! Alternatively, we want something so we push for more so that we can settle for what we wanted in the first place. Whatever scenarios we look at, ultimately we are normally invested in the outcome. And we are seldom able to park these emotions at the door.
With this in mind, I found an article in the Jan-Feb 2013 Harvard Business Review entitled Negotiating with Emotion (by Kimberley Leary, Julianna Pillemer, and Michael Wheeler) intriguing – for them, emotion is a given in negotiation, so best we manage our emotions well. “Denying the emotional complexity of negotiation is not the answer. Instead you need to acknowledge your concerns and recognise your hot buttons. Just as important, you need to remember that no matter how well composed your counterparts seem, inwardly they may be feeling a swirl of mixed emotions.”
They have developed a six-step warm-up exercise to help you become emotionally prepared to negotiate effectively. It is not a matter of suppressing your feelings but drawing on them as a resource so that you can be focused, engaged and agile! Here are their six questions to help you warm up:
1.    How do you want to feel going into the negotiation?
2.    Why?
3.    What can you do beforehand to put yourself in an ideal state?
4.    What can throw you off balance during a negotiation?
5.    What can you do in the midst of a negotiation to regain your balance?
6.    How do you want to feel when you’re finished?
One more point. We tend to think that we can only practise exercises like the above in the heat of business battle. In fact, we probably negotiate at some level on a daily basis. Why not use ‘lesser’ discussions where you are trying to get your way, in the office or at home, as experiential fields to consciously practice this preparation. After all, we need to be emotionally intelligent in all facets of our life. Conversely, we need to minimise our emotional unintelligence in all facets of our life. Food for thought?
Food for thought:
“You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.”
— Fred Smith
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts .
Best wishes to you all as we (already) go into the second month of 2013!
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