How to Cool Down When Negotiations Heat Up

How to Cool Down When Negotiations Heat Up

Negotiations can be tricky and sometimes they even become emotional.  If you’ve ever encountered a difficult negotiation than you probably know that you risk blowing the entire negotiation if the conversation gets too heated.  Although it’s easy to become reactive and feel the urge to “fight back,” it is important to learn how to diffuse the situation before it intensifies. If you walk away just to save face, than you have let the negotiation slip through your fingers and nobody benefits.  When a negotiation becomes heated, consider these tips to diffuse it.

Be Aware of Your Physical Reaction

The first step in cooling down is recognizing when you start tensing up.  If you feel your emotions beginning to rise and your body becomes tense than it’s time to take a deep breath and focus on calming yourself back down.  Place your hands and feet on the floor as this will help you to remain calm and focused. Sit up straight and focus on breathing deeply. These deliberate actions send messages to your brain to calm down.

Listen to Your Counterpart

The biggest mistake people make when conversations get heated is that they begin thinking about how they are going to respond rather than listening to what the other person is saying.  It’s our natural defense mechanism and we immediately want to defend ourselves. However, every time you react to a behavior, it simply elicits another negative behavior from your counterpart.  After your counterpart yells or bangs on the table, simply sit back quietly and let them vent rather than immediately responding with another outburst. If you can avoid an immediate reaction and focus on listening, it will help to calm the other person down as well.

Genuinely Empathize with Your Counterpart

In any negotiation it’s important to respect your counterpart’s perspective.  While it’s acceptable to disagree, it’s also important to try and understand your counterpart’s point of view.  If the other negotiator is angry or frustrated about something, listen to them and genuinely empathize with them.  You want to let them know that you understand and appreciate their perspective. This is also a good time to remind them that you want to reach an agreement that is beneficial for them and you are committed to finding a solution.

Talk in Soothing Tones

Oftentimes it happens subconsciously, but when we begin to feel frustrated our tone of voice begins to change.  We begin to speak louder and more aggressively and this can cause the other negotiator to react in the same manner.  You can diffuse the situation by paying close attention to the tone of voice and your body language. Talk in soothing conciliatory tones and make it a point to nod in agreement to show that you are listening to their perspective.

Stay Positive and Hopeful

Typically when negotiations become heated it’s because one person feels like they are getting the short end of the stick. When you stay positive and offer hope for a solution, it helps to alleviate the other negotiator’s concerns and can calm the situation.

Consider the Circumstances

Many things can affect the negotiation such as timing, fatigue, and personal circumstances.  Fatigue can impair one’s ability to make good decisions so you need to recognize when the negotiation is moving too far into the evening hours or has gone on for too long.  Taking a short break can offer some reprieve and can allow both parties to revisit the negotiation with fresh perspective.