What is the Emotional Temperature in Negotiation?
Learn how to take your emotional temperature during a negotiation to guard against acting irrationally or in ways that can harm you.
During a negotiation, try to gauge whether your emotions are manageable, starting to heat up, or threatening to boil over. When we’re caught up in the heat of the moment, a high emotional temperature can derail us from following through on our intentions.
For example, consider how you would respond to threats and ultimatums such as these during negotiation:
- “If you try to back out, you’ll never work in this industry again.”
- “Give us what we want, or we’ll see you in court.”
- “That’s our final offer. Take it or leave it.”
In the face of such tough talk, should you strike back with a counterthreat? Probably not.
Because counterthreats raise the emotional temperature of a negotiation, they will get you even further off track. Instead, immediately after hearing a threat (or just after you issue one yourself), call for a break.
Take your emotional temperature whenever you are faced with an important decision. Reflecting on your emotional state and its source can help you determine whether it is triggered by the current situation or by an unrelated event, such as a spat with your significant other or a fender bender on the way to the office. Taking your emotional temperature may also help you better understand your counterpart’s feelings in a negotiation—for instance, if you realize your own bad mood could be influencing his.
In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.
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