Emotions in Negotiation

A simple article to illustrate the role that emotions play in negotiation and how an understanding of this can greatly assist the negotiators and optimise the chance of a successful outcome.

We don’t experience the world as it is.We experience the world as we are. Anais Nin.

Two lawyers meet for the first time to negotiate a settlement.To the unaware observer, their greeting is perhaps notable for its uneventfulness.They shake hands,sit down,introduce themselves, and begin talking about the concerns of their respective clients. Each wants to negotiate this small case quickly in order to move on to big, lucrative cases waiting in the docket.And each knows that an agreement can easily be created to meet the interests of their current clients.

Under the surface, however,each lawyer experiences a world of emotions. “He’s much older than I expected’, thinks the one lawyer. She worries that he might try to control the whole negotiation process, and she calls to mind possible statements she could say to assert her professional status in the interaction. Meanwhile, the older lawyer looks at this younger negotiator and recalls an image of his ex-wife. He feels instantly repelled, but feigns cordial professionalism.Not surprisingly, then,neither listens very well to the other during the meeting; neither learns the other’s interests nor shares their own; and neither brainstorms options that might lead to mutual gains.They merely haggle over how much money the one client will pay the other.Each side firmly entrenches in a monetary position; and they close the meeting at impasse.

Extracted from Shapiro “Untapped Power:Emotions in Negotiation”;The Negotiator’s Fieldbook at p 263 and following.

Shapiro concludes that research suggests negotiators can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a negotiation by gaining an understanding of the information communicated by emotions, their own and those of others and enlisting positive emotions into the negotiation.

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