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Using your emotions in negotiations

Learn to use your emotions and you will be a better negotiator, writes Shirli Kopelman for the HBR Blog Network.

Many people fear acknowledging emotions at work, believing they only cloud judgement and impede reasoning. But, argues the author, your emotions can be an important negotiating tool, giving you energy and expression.

Rather than dismissing your emotions during a negotiation, Kopelman advocates recognising and evaluating your feelings to make them work in your favour.

As you pitch your idea or give your presentation, take time to notice how you are feeling and to pay attention to the expressions of those around you.

Next, evaluate those feelings – ask yourself if they are useful or unhelpful to you right now. For instance, if you are making a pitch at an executive meeting, you might notice feelings of pride and frustration. Decide whether feeling and voicing those emotions will assist you in your pitch.

If you think your emotion is useful then “go ahead and feel it”, advises Kopelman. If you think your emotion will hinder your goals, you need to redirect it.

Kopelman describes three ways for you to change an unhelpful emotion and then genuinely feel the more helpful emotion you have chosen to replace it with:

1) Find the source of the emotion you want to change and focus elsewhere. If you are feeling frustrated because someone is frowning at your presentation, choose to focus on something else.

“Changing what you focus on has the power to change your emotion,” advises Kopelman. Find a more helpful emotional trigger – like someone nodding and smiling at what you are saying.

2) Reinterpret the trigger. “Often our initial interpretation of a trigger is based on what we most fear,” says the author. Change your interpretation of the frowning man’s expression so that rather than seeing him as a critic, you imagine he is having trouble reading your slides. This kind of reinterpretation can change your frustration to empathy or relief.

3) If the first two steps do not work, try changing your emotion physiologically. Simply altering your facial expression, posture and breathing can reduce, increase or change your emotions. Slowing down your delivery, for example, can reduce your frustration and make you feel calmer.

Once you have done the (ideally) invisible internal work on your emotions, it is time to display the emotion you have chosen to feel through your actions, advises Kopelman. For example, you could give a curious look to the frowning man or ask him if something is wrong. Responses like these will allow you to “move the conversation forward”.

The author concludes: “Emotions will inevitably arise during negotiations but instead of letting them happen to you or trying to overcome them, use them genuinely and strategically to get what you want and create value for everyone.”

Source
Shirli Kopelman

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