The Role of Emotions in Negotiation

Definition of Emotions

Emotions play a significant role in negotiation, especially when conflict arises within the negotiation. They are internal feelings that direct people towards the things that matter to them, and tell them what they need. It creates cognition and plays a significant role in creation of meaning (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). Emotions are developed during decoding when parties are finding out the intentions of the other party, and encoding which entails impression management. In this case, parties to a negotiation may become emotional if they find out negative intentions or when they get negative impression about the other party’s position or views.

The Affect Theory

The affect theory by Tomkins/Nathanson explains the key categories of emotions in terms of positive affects, neutral affects and negative affects (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). Positive affects include excitement and joy. Excitement creates interest while joy enhances excitement. In this case, negotiators create interest from the other party by enhancing exciting environment during negotiation. On the other hand, joy creates enjoyment. Therefore, a negotiator should reinforce the emotion of joy in a negotiation process in order to enhance enjoyment. For instance, when negotiating about the construction of a child’s playground the contractor may enhance joy among the children in order to enhance their enjoyment and make the negotiation successful because the ultimate goal will be to attract more children.

Neutral affects include surprise and shock (Riva, 2006). Startling leads to surprise. Surprise is essential in negotiation if it is accompanied by a positive outcome. For instance, if one of the parties is given a birthday present unexpectedly, it acts as a surprise and it may encourage him or her to cooperate in the negotiation in order to enhance an optimal position that benefits both parties equally. On the other hand, a negative surprise may cause failure in the negotiation. For instance, if the surprise involves taking the negotiator to a new place with scaring animals or bad smell, then he or may be discouraged from cooperating in the negotiation.

Negative affects include terror/fear, anguish, rage/anger, disgust, dissmell and shame/humiliation. Terror may cause fear among negotiator. For instance, the negotiator may terrify the other party by pointing a gun on him or her and threatening to shoot if the other party does not perform one or more act contained in the negotiation. This causes fear and may cause the other party to fulfill the agreement in fear, which may not be satisfactory to both parties and ruining the relationship between the parties.

Anguish or distress may affect negotiations by causing the inability of a negotiator to understand and synthesize information effectively in order to make rational decisions and choices during negotiation (Riva, 2006). For instance, when a buyer and seller are negotiating about the sale of a product, a distressed buyer may not be able to analyse the features of the product and judge the honesty of the seller effectively. This may cause impulse buying, and the buyer may later realize that he or she has been induced to buy something that she or he does not need. This ruins the relationship between the buyer and the seller, and the buyer may not go back to buy from the same seller again.

Anger also causes problems during negotiations. When someone becomes angry, he or she does not think rationally. It may cause negotiators to fight as a way of pouring out their anger on each other, leading to destruction of the relationship between the negotiators (Riva, 2006). Anger also causes a negotiator not to see good things about the views of the other party. This leads to poor outcomes or ineffective negotiation between the negotiating parties. For example, if two parties meet for negotiation and one party admits that she or he has forgotten an important document, or fails to show up completely, the other party may become angry. As a result, he or she may paralyse the negotiation with his or her anger. However, anger pays in other times. For instance, it may pay when parties are interdependent. It may also be necessary when expressions are used strategically and when anger is justified.

Emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness and surprise affect the ability of negotiators to make rational choices (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). Emotions affect rational decisions positively when persuasion is reinforced in negotiation to appeal negotiators in terms of emotions and instincts. Negotiators need to create a good emotional environment during negotiation by minimizing negative emotions and reinforcing positive ones. An average person is less likely to be affected by emotions than logic and reasoning. Therefore, negotiators should avoid emotions and use logic and reasoning in their judgment, while at the same time observing the emotions of other parties in the negotiation in order to respond appropriately.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is important when handling negotiations that are characterised by emotions. It is important in explaining the role of emotions in negotiation. There are four main abilities of emotional intelligence: using emotions, identifying emotions, understanding emotions and managing emotions (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). In terms of identifying emotions, negotiators consider the nonverbal reception and expression of emotion. Negotiators have to recognize emotions through facial expressions including happiness, sadness, fear and anger in order to determine how to negotiate under each emotional situation. The ability to identify emotions accurately through the face or voice is important in enhancing effective negotiation. For instance, if a negotiator notices that the other party frowns or raises his tone, then he identifies anger and gives him time to cool down before continuing the negotiation.

Use of emotions to guide thinking is also a key aspect of negotiation. It involves the capability of emotions to influence the cognition of negotiating parties; hence promoting thinking (Riva, 2006). Emotions enable negotiators to prioritize their choices or alternatives. This is based on the fact that people react emotionally to something that grabs their attention. For instance, if someone finds enjoyment in a certain thing, he gives it priority in terms of decision making. A system of good emotional input enables negotiators to focus on the most important things in the negotiation.

Understanding emotions is also important in negotiations. Emotions carry information. For instance, happiness shows that a negotiator is ready to join the other party while anger indicates that one party is ready to attack or harm the other party. Therefore, a negotiator will be motivated to continue with the negotiation if the other party is happy, but can be de-motivated to continue with the negotiation if the other party is angry. If one party recognizes that the other party has some fear, then he or she will know that the other party is almost running away from the negotiation. In this case, he or she takes appropriate measures to alleviate the fear in order to keep the other party in the negotiation for a while longer.

Managing emotions is the other branch of emotional intelligence as suggested by Salovey and Mayer (1997). In this case, a negotiator should remain open to some emotions to the extent that they are not harmful and block overwhelming emotions. Negotiators have to emerge from their emotional comfort zone and regulate their emotions and those of others in order to promote the personal and social goals of both parties in the negotiation. Emotional self-regulation plays a crucial role in preventing negative influence of emotions on negotiations.

Methods of Managing Emotions during Negotiations

Some of the mechanisms of managing emotions during negotiation include: obtaining release, seeking assistance, focusing, and taking positive responsibility (Adamatzky, 2005). In terms of obtaining release, a negotiator may ask the other party to postpone the negotiation for another day or allow them some time before restarting the negotiation so that they can cool down and regain their consciousness. For example, an angry negotiator may go out for some time to relax and consider his or her stand in the negotiation before continuing. The negotiator may also seek assistance from colleagues, mentors, role model or other people who are experienced in the field of negotiation (Adamatzky, 2005). For instance, a student may seek assistance from a friend or a teacher/tutor. Some emotions such as fear and anxiety can also be managed by focusing on the key issue being negotiated. This enables the negotiators to avoid being distracted by their emotions during negotiation.

Intense emotions in others can also be managed by listening, communicating respect, avoiding retaliation, stating one’s own feelings, and objectives, and giving the other person space (Volkema, 2006). Listening is important because it enables negotiators to understand the views and needs of the other person and address them adequately during negotiation in order to win them. The negotiator should also avoid paying back pr retaliating in order to maintain good relationship between the negotiators. The other person should also be given space to manage, control and exercise their own emotions so that they can make rational decisions (Volkema, 2006). Furthermore, all parties in a negotiation need to state their goals, feelings and objectives so that they know what to expect from each other in the negotiation. This prevents unnecessary emotions which usually arise from unexpected actions of the other party, e.g. fear and surprise. Therefore, emotions play a crucial role in negotiation and need to be managed effectively with a good level of emotional intelligence in order to enhance effective negotiation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *