Emotions in Negotiation: How to Use Feelings and Sentiment to Your Advantage

It’s common advice to minimize your emotions during a negotiation. You may have even been told that emotions are a liability in a negotiation. The truth, however, is that emotion is not the enemy. Not only are emotions a natural human reaction, but they can also create rapport and motivate action. Therefore, you don’t want to take emotion out of the equation, but rather add it in order to achieve a more desirable outcome. Here are some ways you can use emotions strategically to gain a negotiation advantage.

The Benefits of Positive Emotion

Positive emotions such as happiness, satisfaction, and gratitude can enhance your negotiation by building trust and rapport with your counterpart. This can encourage greater cooperation and can lead to more mutually beneficial outcomes. Positive emotions can also reduce stress and prevent conflicts from escalating at the bargaining table. Here are a few ways in which positive emotions can be used to your advantage. 

It Builds a Connection

You want the other person to feel connected to you and be willing to say “We are allies.” If they feel like your adversary, you won’t work well with them. However, when you build rapport with the other party you are more likely to work creatively together. You can build this rapport and connection by asking questions about their interests and needs. After all, people like to talk about themselves and they will appreciate your kindness in listening. This builds trust, likability, and rapport which all lead to more superior outcomes. 

It Makes Them Feel Engaged

You want the other person to feel like they are collaborating with you because when they feel like they are investing their time and energy, they are more likely to want to accomplish a successful outcome. Not only does collaboration encourage a sense of ownership, but it turns the negotiation process into an opportunity to create value for both parties. 

It Fosters Respect

Your positive energy and emotions will also help to make the other party feel respected. For example, you can complement the other person’s knowledge and expertise, making them feel competent and respected by you. In doing so, you will be able to move forward with a more productive conversation because they will no longer feel as though it is you versus them. It takes a bit of humility, bit making the other person feel like they have come up with some great ideas can facilitate a more successful negotiation.