Results Through Relationship: How to take control of your emotions during negotiation

STAY CALM AND CONFIDENT DESPITE THE HEAT: How to take control of your emotions during a negotiation?


While there are negotiators who walk into a meeting room and get revved up from a belligerent atmosphere, we all know by now that win-win negotiations are the optimum in this field. Knowing how to take an active stance in controlling your emotions is, therefore, part of the process of a smooth-flowing negotiation.

“Remaining calm” is easy to say but often difficult to put into practice. As long as you have this mantra at the back of your mind, you are able to pause and allow yourself back into objectivity once you sense a chance of something going wrong in the negotiation.

With that said, pause and take a deep breath before diving back into the negotiation. Advocate for a short break for both parties. Until you have thought through what you wanted to say with a correct mindset, do not make deals or form a decision on the spot especially in the middle of a heated discussion. The tendency to retaliate is human but this must be avoided. When you incur an emotion, try validating its purpose.


To every heated discussion, there is a trigger point. Mentally scrutinize and pick apart what was said and laid out on the negotiation table that caused you to feel attacked. As mentioned earlier, take a physical break if you have to so that you have a chance to regroup your thoughts. Where did the negotiation take a wrong turn?

D. Kolb in a Harvard Negotiation Newsletter proposed these communication techniques that can be used to address these triggers. Specifically, taking a break, naming the move, questioning the move, correcting the assertion with accurate information and ignoring the trigger and refocusing back to the problem.


Giving off some type of emotion is inevitable. What you can learn to do is manipulate a negative emotion into something both positive and constructive.

To do this, stall your negative emotions from gaining momentum by expressing yourself assertively. Research has shown that asserting yourself, in the correct way, helps to build confidence in the receiver. You do not want to rub people the wrong way and so take heed in crafting your message effectively.

Robert Bolton, in his book People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts, introduces a template to formulate your assertive message. The template has three steps: 1) describing the behaviour in a non-judgmental way, 2) disclosing how you feel about the other party’s attitude/behaviour towards you and 3) describing a tangible consequence of such attitude/behaviour upon yourself.

For example, telling the other party that 1) because they are always late, 2) you feel frustrated, and 3) you have wasted time waiting for them. Do not mistake assertion for aggressiveness — keep your hostility in check and focus on getting your message communicated clearly without implying dominance.


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