Ways to Calm Down in Stressful Negotiations

Negotiation is a fine art and it can be very difficult to stay calm when the stakes are high, but it can be even more of a challenge to stay cool and collected when the conversation gets heated or intense. We have all encountered that time when we got caught in the crossroads between accepting an offer or declining it and things can get intense. Anxiety builds, fear creeps in, and you begin to doubt yourself. Better yet, your emotions get the best of you and you find yourself getting angry and defensive. It’s times like these when you are on the brink of losing the whole deal so it’s important to take a deep breath, stay calm, and avoid panic. Here are a few ways to calm down when negotiations get stressful.

Become Aware of Your Danger Zone

Everyone has a breaking point and if we pay attention to our bodies, we will notice when we begin to reach that point. When we start to feel the stress mounting, our “fight or flight” senses kick in causing a physical reaction. Our face gets hot, our palms get sweaty, and our heart begins racing. As we approach this danger zone we risk losing control of our ability to think rationally so it’s important to react as soon as we begin feeling worked up. It’s time to stop, take a few deep breaths, and allow our body to calm back down.

Focus on Breathing

Taking a few deep breaths can help your body relax and keep it from reaching panic mode. Deep breathing acts as a tranquilizer for the nervous system and can quickly help your body return to a calmer state. If you need to, take a short break from the conversation and step away so you can focus on your breathing. Return to the negotiation when you feel ready.


The best negotiators are the ones who understand the importance of listening. Oftentimes when we feel stressed, we are reacting before we fully understand the scope of the situation. Stop and take some time to listen. Not only will this give you a break from talking, but it will help you to fully understand the needs and wants of your counterpart. Listening will also make the other party feel like they are being hard and sometimes that in itself is enough to deescalate the situation.

Take a Break

There are times in negotiations when it’s just better to stop and take a short reprieve. If you feel yourself tensing up, there’s a good chance your counterpart feels the same way. Nothing good will come if both parties are stressed so this would be a good time to take a short recess and return to the negotiations once everyone has had a chance to relax and collect their thoughts.

Have a Good Sense of Humor

Negotiations are difficult enough and all too often they are rigid and serious. However, it’s important to remember that negotiating is stressful for both parties and that’s why a good sense of humor can really make a difference. Take some of the pressure off by keeping the negotiations lighthearted. Your counterpart will even appreciate it!