How to Manage Your Emotions to Maintain Credibility as a Negotiator

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In order to be an effective negotiator, you have to learn how to manage your emotions to maintain your credibility. You can’t let emotions drive the process and most certainly can’t take things personally—or the conversation will go south quickly. Josh King recently joined me on the Negotiations Ninja podcast to discuss negotiations and the tactics he’s learned over the years to manage emotions.

It’s okay to take a step back from a negotiation

About a year ago, Josh was working on negotiating a settlement with the CFO of a company. The CEO came in immediately adopting an aggressive position. Josh tried to deescalate the situation but found himself becoming increasingly frustrated. The other part was wearing his patience down.

Things were getting heated and they were going nowhere in the negotiation process, so Josh called for a break. Both parties needed time to calm their tempers. Josh points out that if things get out of hand, you lose your credibility. It’s okay to take a step back and reconvene when everyone is in a better state of mind.

How to manage your emotions when tension runs high

Josh shared this story to point out that emotions can get in the way of effective negotiation. So how do you control your emotions in situations where you feel like you’re about to explode?

Josh urges everyone to become more self-aware and self-critical. You have to learn to recognize when you’re on the threshold of blowing your top.

Am I getting upset? Is it happening spontaneously or is it my intention to get upset?

You must be self-aware of your intent. If you are trying to let the other party know that you’re upset and want to negotiate from that stand, so be it. But if your intention was a smooth negotiation, find a way to step away from the meeting. He recommends asking for a coffee break, time to use the facilities, etc.

Take a few moments to gather yourself—maybe even talk to someone you trust to help reign in your emotions. Worst comes to worst, Josh says simply let the other party know that your “Head is not in the game right now, I think it’s best if we continue this at another point in time”.

Understanding who you are and what triggers you helps you prepare for what could happen in a negotiation. This is a good life lesson to take away for many life situations, not just negotiation. If you want to walk into the meeting and charm their pants off, do it. If you want to be upset with intent, follow through. Whatever you decide, stick to the plan in place.

Josh also points out that you need to practice emotional intelligence. You have to understand who is on the other side of the table. You have to adjust your style and tactics accordingly and be very aware of how you’re coming across.

Listen to Josh’s episode on the Negotiations Ninja podcast as he shares some strategies for negotiation planning, takes a deep-dive into managing your emotions, and his tactics to improve your negotiation skills.