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Use Your Emotions to Your Advantage

Use Your Emotions to Your Advantage

There’s one constant in every negotiation. You.

You need to have a deep awareness of how you react to things. How do you stay calm? What do you do if someone screams at you? Part of that is being aware of and noticing when you’re starting to react.

As soon as we want something from someone, emotion is engaged. Christine McKay believes that we need to talk about our emotions instead of just trying to control them.

Christine was negotiating with a gentleman who made a sexual innuendo and then said, “Why would you hire a woman to negotiate? Everyone knows women can’t negotiate.”

25 years ago, Christine would have taken action on her emotions. Instead of reacting, Christine asked him, “What reaction did you hope to achieve by making that statement?” She gave him an out, and he quickly backpedaled.

The different perspectives on Elon Musk’s negotiation style

Elon Musk has been emotional in his approach with Twitter. He had an assumption of what he believed to be true. When he was told it wasn’t true, he reacted emotionally and complained on Twitter. He didn’t use the emotion to his benefit.

That’s why Christine coaches people to become more aware of their emotions. How do you become aware of your emotion and take action on it in a way that benefits you so you aren’t reacting?

Some people think Elon Musk’s irrational and emotional negotiation style is a train wreck. Others think it’s a masterful way to use emotion to drive a better deal, etc. Will we ever know? On the surface, he looks erratic. But when you think about what he’s done, maybe he’s driving for something deeper.

Leverage is something you volunteer to give up

People often feel like the emotional overwhelm is too intense. How can you say no? What will it do to future opportunities? They’re talking to you for a reason. That means you have leverage in the conversation. It can help you become more comfortable with your emotions.

Ultimately, leverage is something you choose to give up. You always have alternatives. “No” is an invitation to ask another question differently. What specifically are you saying “no” to? Most of the time, someone says no to a part of what you said. Get them to be specific.

Conversely, you aren’t necessarily saying no to what they proposed; you’re saying yes to your own interests. It’s a complete reframing of the perspective. Specify what you’re saying no to, then offer an alternative. This requires transparency many people have been taught to avoid in negotiation.

Too many people compare negotiation to chess, poker, etc. But your focus should be on having honest conversations where you withhold some information but are transparent enough to let the counterpart know if an agreement is doable.

It’s all about using your emotions to your advantage. Learn more about emotions in contract negotiations in episode #367 of Negotiations Ninja!