You ever have one of those ‘eat your words’ moments? Well, let me tell ya about my first negotiation showdown – the mother of all reality checks. Picture a greenhorn exec, me, stepping into a high-stakes negotiation. Brimming with bookish confidence, and enough caffeine to power a small city. Ready to charm the pants off these industry veterans. A walk in the park, right? Wrong.

The moment that conference room door closed, things went south. The room was colder than a witch’s teat, and my would-be negotiation buddies were about as friendly as a pack of starving hyenas. The polite introductions barely masked the tension; it was like being in a room full of piranhas circling their next meal. Their grizzled experience vs my academic knowledge, it was David and Goliath all over again.

Long story short, my ‘enthusiasm’ came off as brash. My ‘calculated risks’ looked reckless. And my idea of a ‘creative solution’? They saw it as immaturity. I choked, fumbled, and let’s just say, the negotiation went about as well as a screen door on a submarine.

The emotional aftermath? Let’s not go there.

But, you know what? That slap in the face was a blessing in disguise. It made me realize that understanding business wasn’t enough. I needed to master my emotions, understand theirs, and make that knowledge work in my favor.

See, here’s the kicker: emotions and negotiations go together like bourbon and bad decisions. You might think keeping a stiff upper lip and hiding your nerves is the way to go. You might believe that flashing anger can intimidate others into submission. You might even think that showing disappointment is a sign of weakness. But, my dear future negotiation ninjas, that’s a load of hogwash.

Emotions in negotiation? It’s a bit like handling explosives – a powerful tool if you know what you’re doing, or a disaster waiting to happen if you don’t.

So, buckle up because we’re about to embark on a deep-dive into the turbulent sea of emotions that lie beneath the cool surface of negotiation. Let’s dissect this beast, understand how to use emotions to our advantage, and make sure you’re armed and ready for your own showdown.

Anatomy of Emotions in Negotiation

Let’s kick things off with our old friend, anxiety. The jittery bastard. Now, I can already hear some of you thinking, “Anxiety? Hell, I thrive under pressure.” Well, hold your horses there, cowboy, because here’s the thing: anxiety ain’t your friend in a negotiation. In fact, it’s about as helpful as a chocolate teapot.

Why, you ask? Well, for starters, when you’re anxious, you’re not at the top of your game. Think about it, when was the last time you made a stellar decision with your heart pounding like a drum and your palms sweaty enough to hydrate a cactus? Anxiety messes with your ability to think clearly, focus, and make sound decisions. It’s like trying to drive a Formula 1 race with a foggy windshield.

But don’t just take my word for it, let’s bring some science into the mix. Studies have shown that negotiators who feel anxious tend to have poorer outcomes. Why? Because anxiety can make you overestimate the other party’s confidence, underestimate your own bargaining power, and settle for less than you deserve. It’s like entering a poker game and folding your hand before even looking at your cards.

“But Geoffrey,” I hear you say, “I can’t just snap my fingers and make my anxiety disappear.” Well, no shit, Sherlock. But you can learn to manage it. How? Practice and rehearsal. Yeah, it might sound about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it works. The more familiar you are with your negotiation script, the less room there is for anxiety to creep in.

And here’s another pro tip: if the thought of negotiating makes you break out in a cold sweat, consider getting an outside expert to represent you at the bargaining table. These guys are pros at keeping their cool, and they can help level the playing field, particularly when you’re dealing with more experienced negotiators. It’s like bringing a ringer to a pickup basketball game.

But remember, my negotiation prodigies, anxiety is just one piece of the puzzle. There’s a whole zoo of emotions that can show up during a negotiation, each with its own quirks and tricks.

Fanning the Flames: The Anger Paradox

Alright, onto the next emotional boogeyman – anger. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “A little anger never hurt anyone, right?” Wrong. In a negotiation, anger is a double-edged sword. Sure, it can sometimes intimidate the other party into giving you what you want. It’s a bit like banging your fist on the table – you might scare some people into submission. But believe me, my negotiation novices, it’s not a tactic you want to rely on.

Let’s get this straight: Negotiation isn’t a one-night stand. It’s more like a long-term relationship. You’re not just trying to get what you want right now, but also setting the tone for future interactions. And nothing poisons the well of goodwill faster than a hot temper. Throw your anger around like confetti, and you might win the battle, but you’ll probably lose the war.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at the research. Studies have shown that anger can damage trust, make compromise more difficult, and increase the likelihood of an impasse. It’s like trying to defuse a bomb by cutting all the wires at once – you’re more likely to blow up the whole negotiation.

But Geoffrey, I hear you say, what if I can’t help getting angry? Well, then it’s time to learn some anger management. And no, I’m not talking about taking up yoga or punching a pillow (though if it works for you, go for it). I’m talking about simple, effective strategies like taking a break when things get heated. It’s like hitting the pause button on a movie – it gives everyone a chance to cool down and reset.

Another tactic? Try expressing sadness or a desire to compromise instead of letting your anger fly. It’s like turning down the heat on a boiling pot – it takes the pressure off and gives you a chance to steer the negotiation in a more productive direction.

The bottom line, my friends, is that anger is a tricky beast. It’s not your secret weapon, but a wildfire that can burn your negotiation to the ground if you’re not careful.

The Disappointment Dilemma: Turning Frowns into Wins

Now, let’s delve into the world of disappointment. This is an emotion we’re all too familiar with, right? Like when your favorite show gets cancelled mid-season, or when your trusted barista messes up your order on a Monday morning. Yeah, it stinks, but what if I told you that in negotiation, disappointment can be your secret weapon?

First off, let’s get one thing straight – disappointment is a complex emotion. It’s like a cocktail with a bitter aftertaste – a blend of regret, sadness, and frustration. In a negotiation, it often rears its head when things aren’t going the way you expected or wanted.

But here’s the silver lining: disappointment can serve as a wake-up call, a signal that something’s gotta change. It’s like your car’s check engine light – a warning that you need to pop the hood and do some tinkering.

How do you do that? Simple. By asking more questions. And I mean a LOT of questions. Dive deep into the whys and the hows of the negotiation. Is there something you’re overlooking? Are there any alternative solutions that you haven’t considered? Is there more information you could gather that would help you make a better decision? It’s like being a detective on the hunt for clues – the more you uncover, the better equipped you’ll be to steer the negotiation in your favor.

Another thing to remember is that a negotiation is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re feeling disappointed, resist the temptation to rush to a conclusion just to get it over with. That’s like trying to finish a puzzle by jamming pieces where they don’t fit. It might give you a temporary sense of relief, but you’ll probably end up with a mess. Instead, keep the dialogue going, keep exploring options, and don’t be afraid to sweeten the deal if you can.

In the end, my negotiation ninjas, remember this: disappointment isn’t a death sentence. It’s an opportunity to dig deeper, to rethink, and to potentially turn the tables.

The Excitement Trap: Harnessing Your Inner Enthusiast

Pop quiz, hotshot. What’s the one emotion you’d probably associate with a win? Excitement, right? That rush of adrenaline, that thrill of victory – it’s like the cherry on top of your negotiation sundae. But what if I told you that, in a negotiation, excitement could be your downfall? I bet you didn’t see that coming.

Here’s the thing. Excitement is like a powerful sports car – it’s thrilling to drive, but if you don’t know how to handle it, you’re likely to end up in a ditch. Get too excited too early in a negotiation, and you might rush to a decision without thinking things through. It’s like gobbling down a delicious meal without chewing – you might choke.

And that’s not all. Gloating about the terms of your deal can alienate your counterparts. Remember, a negotiation isn’t a football match. It’s not about scoring goals and rubbing it in the other team’s face. It’s about coming to a mutually beneficial agreement. If you’re fist-pumping and chest-beating, you’re not just being a jerk – you’re also risking the long-term relationship.

But hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should become a robot and suppress all your emotions. That would be like trying to paint a masterpiece without any colors. Excitement, like any other emotion, has its place in negotiation. The trick is managing it effectively.

Think of it this way. Emotions are like spices in a dish – you want just the right amount. Too little, and the dish is bland. Too much, and it’s inedible. When you feel that rush of excitement, don’t squash it. Instead, channel it into a positive and constructive enthusiasm. Show your counterparts that you’re not just excited about your win, but about the prospect of a fruitful partnership.

So remember, excitement is not your enemy. It’s a powerful tool that, when handled correctly, can bring about a win-win outcome.


Well, well, well, we’ve journeyed together through the tumultuous terrain of emotions in negotiation. Anxiety, anger, disappointment, excitement – who knew that these emotions could wield so much power in a negotiation, eh? And who knew that by understanding and mastering these emotions, you could turn your negotiations from nerve-racking stand-offs into engaging dialogues?

Here’s the thing, folks. We’re not robots. We’re human beings. And as humans, we’re bundles of emotions. Emotions that can sometimes get the better of us, emotions that can sometimes lead us astray. But remember this: these emotions are not your enemies. They’re a part of who you are.

Think of them as your toolkit. Your negotiation toolbox, if you will. Each emotion has its function, its utility, its role to play in your negotiation journey. Anxiety can keep you on your toes, anger can fuel your resolve, disappointment can open your eyes to new possibilities, and excitement can drive you towards a win-win outcome.

The key is not to suppress these emotions, but to understand them, to master them, and to wield them effectively. Because when you do, you’ll not only be a better negotiator – you’ll also be a more empathetic, more understanding, and more effective communicator.

So, as you step into your next negotiation, remember this: Emotions are not obstacles to overcome, but allies to embrace. Harness their power, channel their energy, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a negotiation maestro.

And, remember this: Negotiations, like life, are a roller coaster of emotions. Embrace the ride.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.