How to Stay Positive during Tense Negotiations

It’s not easy to stay calm and positive when things get heated in a meeting or a difficult conversation and things can get especially tense during a negotiation.  We have all experienced this at one time or another. We might end up saying something that we later regret or making concessions just to get out of the situation.  It can be difficult to remain positive when you strongly disagree with the other party, but failure to do so will likely leave you wishing for a reset button. With so much at stake, it’s important to “keep calm and negotiate on.”  Here are a few tips for how you can keep your cool even in the most difficult negotiations.

Control Your Emotions

When you are in the midst of a tense negotiation it is easy to let you your emotions get the best of you.  However, your emotions can influence your behavior and can cause you to strengthen or damage the relationship with your counterpart.  While you might disagree strongly with the other side or feel angry about their requests, you have to maintain your composure in order to think rationally and act strategically.  Take a deep breath and remember to stay in control of your emotions.

Stay Focused on the Solution

Tough negotiators can use aggressive tactics to try and manipulate and control the negotiation.  As soon as you start feeling yourself begin to tense up, remember to shift your focus to the solution.  Allow the other party to speak but do not respond to aggression with aggression. Rather, let them know that you hear what they are saying and then politely shift the focus back to the solution.  When you stay focused on providing a solution and refuse to give in to their tactics, you will be able to remain positive and calm throughout the negotiation.

Come Prepared

The preparation you do before the negotiation can have a huge impact on your ability to remain calm and composed.  Gather as much information as you can prior to the negotiation. Find out what the other party values most, what problems they are having, and what solutions you can provide.  Aggressive negotiators are still there for one reason: to find a solution. If you are familiar with their needs and come prepared with solutions, you are less likely to crumble under the pressure of a tense negotiation.  


Oftentimes, aggressive negotiators get defensive because they want to feel heard.  They want to know that you are listening to them and are hearing their needs. So, give them what they want.  Your most powerful tool is your ability to listen. If you actively listen to your counterpart, it will make them feel respected and “in control” of the situation.  This will also allow you to maintain your composure and keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

Be Polite

As much as you may want to shout at the other person, it is important to remain polite throughout tense negotiations.  If you stay calm, it will help to diffuse the situation and calm the other person down as well. Furthermore, your ability to be polite amidst tense conversation will help you earn the respect of your counterpart and help the negotiation to remain positive.