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5 Days to Better Negotiating: Day 2 – Don’t be emotional

One of my most important business mentors was my father.  He once told me the first person to lose their temper in a negotiation was sure to get the lesser of the bargain.  I too often forget the lesson, but how right dad was!

Emotions can run high during a negotiation. It is too easy to forget how important a calm demeanor and attitude can be.  If we get upset, if we display anxiety or anger, we betray our rationale nature which serves us so well in negotiation. 


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Behaving in a positive manner not only indicates we are in control of our own position.  A check on our emotions also helps the other side to act in accord. People’s emotions tend to mimic others. If we get upset, others are likely to get upset.  If we remain calm and reasonable, others are likely too as well. Don’t misunderstand passion as emotion.  It is good to be passionate about your position, especially if you can demonstrate mutual advantage and enroll others in your passion.  Emotion, however, runs the risk of abandoning the mutuality and rationality of the negotiation framework.

What do you do if the other side gets emotional?  Let them have their space.  Listen intently and show your interest.  Tell them you understand they are passionate about their position and you appreciate passion.  Give them the room to back off and gather their thoughts. If you need to ask for a “time out”, do so.

Emotion has its place, but the negotiating table is not one of them.  Save the emotion for later in the day.  If you want to be at the top of your game, practice a rational, calm approach.

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